Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The Future Starts Here

The new V and A exhibition "The Future Starts Here", which includes some of our lidar work, had its preview and VIP opening yesterday. It's quite a spectacle, with some amazing exhibits. The opening also had its fair share of VIPs and famous faces. And me. :-) 

Museum director Tristram Hunt opening proceedings.

And here we are! Our lidar animation from Caxiuanã, originally generated by Andy.
I was approached by Rory Hyde, one of the curators of the exhibition along with Mariana Pestana, who wanted to include our 3D lidar work from tropical forests, as an example of how new technology is allowing us to understand and hopefully manage our world better.

Other work included in the exhibition includes: a chargeable shirt which can power a phone; a drone ship which can clean up oil spills; an autonomous flying wing intended to cruise the skies using solar power and broadcasting internet access to remote areas; AI bots intended to help mediate and hopefully improve political discourse and democratic process. Lots of fun, thought-provoking and definitely worth a visit if you're in London between now and November.
Aquila, the flying broadcast drone: as being developed by Facebook, obvs.

A man-made leaf that photosynthesises.
Our work also features in the glossy accompanying book, and it's quite a thrill to see it amongst all the other incredible ideas and technology. I got to speak to some very interesting people whose work was also featured, as well as people passing who were interested in my work. There may be more connections arising out of this yet!

Point cloud included in the glossy (£25!) book accompanying the exhibition.

Thursday, 3 May 2018

The Colonel Armstrong Tree

This is the biggest tree (well, tallest) we've scanned and processed so far - the majestic, huge Colonel Armstrong Tree, in Armstrong State Park, CA. The tree is apparently 308 feet tall, although our lidar measurements suggest it's slightly shorter (90m or around 290 ft). Either way, it's MASSIVE. The point cloud is incredible, particularly the detail of the lower trunk. Andy has left the sign in at the lower part of the point cloud for scale - the sign is about 1.5m high.
The base of the tree: (image Roy Tennant,

Here are some quick screengrabs of the point cloud showing the amazing detail.

Event horizon. Or inside the giant.

Close up of trunk about 1/3 of the way up.

Another trunk close up showing some of the small epicormic branches.
Finally, here's the link to the Sketchfab point cloud. I can't get the smile off my face when I look at this. For anyone who wants to find out more about these extraordinary trees (and they really have some amazing ecological secrets) I thoroughly recommend Richard Peston's The Wild Trees, an account of a band of climbers, ecologists and enthusiasts like Steve Sillett and others, pioneered the climbing, measurement and understanding of these trees in the 1980s and on.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Ham and High: May Day fun

Activities close to home this week, with some scanning on Hampstead Heath to measure some of the coppiced oak woodland with our Riegl VZ400, on a gorgeous clear spring day. As befitting May Day and notwithstanding the ridiculous wintry temperatures and torrential rain the day before, this was as good as it gets. Hiding away in the well-heeled suburbs of Highgate and Hampstead, this is a real oasis in the city. Most of the trees are relatively young (20th C), but a couple of them, slight hill in the background below, are more than 200 years old.
One of the lovely secluded oak stands, within earshot of the busy Spaniards Road. Crystal skies.

Looking up through the crowns. Is that a cloud?
We're aiming to compare our estimates of biomass in the woods here with those from the local surveys done by the estate management. This has to be one of my favourite bits of London.

Earlier that morning, I visited my daughter Lotta's school to talk to the Year 3s about trees. It's their Science Week and they're studying trees in and around the local area, including Epping Forest, which has the famous Gilwell Oak, the UK's 2017 Tree of the Year (yes obviously it's a thing!) and a nominee for European TOTY 2018. I showed the children some of our work, some of the oldest and largest trees in the world, and the UK. They seemed to enjoy finding out about the people and animals that live in forests around the world very much! I even took our ZEB REVO in to scan them while they 'stayed still'.

ZEB Revo scan of the Jubilee School Year 3s listening intently with the adults sitting at the back (left).