Area Targets from Leica Scans

Leica offers compact imaging laser scanners that accurately capture spaces as point clouds and panoramic images, ideal for Area Targets. With the LiDAR technology and speedy capture, you can cover huge areas that are then imported and processed in the Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS software tool. It is a timely opportunity to extend your business by offering users and clients rich and interactive augmented reality experiences in locations.

Supported Devices

  • Leica RTC360
  • Leica BLK360

Leica Scanning Workflow

Operating the Leica scanner is likely performed by professionals trained in the setup, scanning process, and post-production. We therefore encourage you to either find a partner to help scan your space or consult with Leica Geosystems for device purchases and training opportunities. In case you already have a Leica scanner in possession, we believe you have already familiarized and trained yourself in handling the device.

The general workflow for scanning with Leica scanners:

  1. Ready the Leica scanner by charging batteries and the iOS or Android device with the Cyclone FIELD 360 application installed.
  2. Prepare the environment for scanning.
  3. Scan the environment following our general guidelines scanning practice guide.
  4. Import the scans into Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS.
  5. Configure the imported bundle as needed, finalize it, and export it as a E57 file.

NOTE: The Leica BLK360 scanner is supported by the Matterport™ pipeline as well. This guide describes how to prepare and export Leica scans into E57 files using the Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS software. See the Area Targets with Matterport™ page to use the BLK360 scanner in combination with the Matterport™ service.

Getting Started with Leica Scanners

Prerequisites for scanning with Leica scanners

  • A Leica BLK360 or scanner, including the tripod, and recommended accessories – also known as a Mission Kit.
  • An activated Cyclone FIELD 360 app, installed on your mobile device.
  • An activated recent version (2023.1.0 and later) of the Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS software package, installed on your desktop machine to process scans.

Scanning an Environment

For scanning and device operation follow the extensive guides and video tutorials on the product pages for the Leica BLK360 and the Leica RTC360 scanners. Please note that setting higher scanning densities increases the time for each scan to complete and results in considerable larger files. Area Targets do not benefit from high point cloud density, scan in high resolution only if you wish to use the scan for additional purposes as well.

Following settings can be set in the Field 360 app or the control panel of the RTC360:

BLK360 recommended scanning settings:

  • The panoramas must be included in the scan.
  • Scan in low resolution.
  • Disable HDR image capturing and use the LDR mode instead. See HDR-tonemapping if you decide to enable HDR on the BLK360.

RTC360 recommended scanning settings:

  • The panoramas must be included in the scan.
  • Set the point cloud density to low resolution.
  • In environments with moving persons or objects, you can enable Double Scan.
  • HDR scans on the RTC360 are supported.

A few things to be aware of:

  • Scan in doorways and move only the scanner to a position visible from the previous scan.
  • Highly reflective, absorbent or transparent materials can be often difficult to capture.
  • Annotations and Markings are not preserved via the Area Targets toolchain.
  • See Best Practices for Preparing and Scanning an Environment for other scanning practices.

Transferring and Post-processing the Scan

When a scan is finished, transfer the scan to your desktop for processing the data; transfer the raw data via USB-stick or Wi-Fi, or by connecting to the FIELD 360 app from your desktop. For the detailed steps on importing and post-processing scans, follow the manuals and video tutorials as provided on the Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS product page.

Following settings shall be set in the REGISTER 360 software prior to starting processing and exporting data for Area Targets:

  1. On the General tab of the Settings, set the length unit to meter:
  2. On the Export tab , check both options to export cleaned points and create the finalized point cloud.

    NOTE: Do not export structured E57 in the compatibility format as it will cause the Area Target Generator to reject the E57 file!

    NOTE: In some cases, you can speed-up the export by un-checking the Create point cloud during finalized registration creation option.
    You can see other recommended settings in the General tab below:

  3. In Cyclone REGISTER 360 PLUS, start a new project and import the scan data folder (For RTC360, don’t forget to add the project.rtc360 file next to the root of the raw scan folder!).
  4. Adjust the import properties of the data in the Properties tab found on the right,
    • For BLK360, check the Auto Cloud option.
    • Data from RTC360 should be imported using the Pre-Registered option if the VPS system was used as recommended during scanning. Alternatively, one can use the Auto Cloud as well, but it will result in a longer import duration and a possibly worse registration.
    • When using scanning targets, check the Sphere and/or B&W target options to enable auto-alignment.

  5. Press Import. The tool responds with feedback on the number of imported set-ups and created links.

Network Links

By enabling the Pre-Registered option on import, although being faster, the resulting links between scans may be insufficient. Additional steps are therefore recommended:

  1. Review and Optimize the registration and links between scans:
    1. To improve the accuracy of the overall scan, we recommend increasing the number of links between individual scans by choosing Show Suggested Links Within Bundle in the context menu of the Bundle.
    2. Select one of the suggestions indicated by a dashed line between two setups and select Add all visible suggested links.
  2. To further improve link strength and reduce global registration errors, it is recommended to also trigger Run Cloud-to-Cloud on all links… once the link network is dense. A good registration will yield an overall Bundle Error and Cloud-to-Cloud registration of less than 1 cm.

Cropping Scans

Use the Fence tool to cut away undesired parts of the scans. For example, cut away structures and objects that were captured through windows and doorways. Additionally, inspect the scans for ghost structures introduced by glass walls with reflections that are being interpreted as physical parts of a scene. Such artefacts can obstruct the future authoring process in Unity.

The Fence tool is available in the tool bar under the Review and Optimize tab. Use it in the Bundle Cloud view for fast cropping of the whole scan. Switch to Setup Cloud view for cropping out parts and ghost structures of each scan position.

NOTE: Please avoid using the Limit Box feature when working with Area Targets, as it can cause the target not being generated properly in certain cases. Use the Fence tool instead, or the ATG’s built in Space Editing functions.


Panoramas from the RTC360 can be kept at the default tonemapping.

In case the BLK360 scanner was set to HDR mode, we recommend reviewing the tonemapping settings of the panoramas.

  • Right-click the Bundle in the SiteMap, select Edit HDR Image... and
  • change the tone map to Linear. Set the 
    Gamma close to 0.4545, adjust 
    Brightness to 0.198 (max), and 
    Gain dB to a higher value (e.g. 4) in case the images still appear dark.
  • Select Apply to Project and press OK.

Publish Report

  1. Once the optimization is finished, finalize the scan by accepting the registration report, using both “accept” buttons.
  2. In the Report tab, select Publish options and check E57 (as one file) as the output format and choose the export filename.
  3. In the E57 Export Options Window, select Separate Setups (structured, unstructured) option.

Point cloud sub-sampling

Reduce large files by using sub-sampling on scans with dense point clouds.

For BLK360, low resolution scans require no sub-sampling. High resolution scans from this device can be sub-sampled up to 1/9 sub-sampling without an observable quality loss.

For RTC360, low resolution can be set to 1/9 sub-sampling. High resolution scans can be sub-sampled up to 1/25 without loss in quality.

  1. In the Report tab, select Properties -> Publish Options and click the Decimate Setups/Point Cloud.
  2. Check the Sub-sampling factor (setups) and select from the dropdown menu 1/9 or 1/25 depending on your setup. Close the dialog with OK.
  3. Press Publish to generate the output E57 file.

Creating Area Targets from your Leica Scan

At this stage, the scan is ready for import into the Area Target Generator desktop application. See the installation guide of the ATG here.

Follow the How to Create Area Targets to import and create Area Targets from E57 files.

Finally, import the Area Target database into the Unity Editor for authoring or in your native development environment. See Using Area Targets in Unity and Area Target API Overview on getting started.

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