Can I use Canvas outdoors?

The Short Answer

Direct sunlight interferes with most forms of 3D sensing to varying degrees, and this can negatively affect results. However, there are usually ways to make it work! 

The Long Answer:

Structure Sensor uses an infrared sensor as part of its sensing system, and ambient infrared from direct sunlight can interfere with its use. As a result, we don’t recommend using it on outdoor projects. You can learn more about how Structure Sensor works here.

If you are using Canvas with a LiDAR-enabled iPad, its time-of-flight camera is much less sensitive to sunlight interference, and in our initial testing, it does seem to perform better outdoors overall than Structure Sensor. However, direct, bright sunlight can still affect scanning performance using most types of 3D sensors. Outside of scanning, you may run into a few other limitations:

  • Range: the LiDAR sensor’s range is 5m, and Structure Sensor’s range is 3.5m, meaning roofs and second story exteriors will be very challenging.
  • Scan To CAD: Scan To CAD will generally handle the exteriors of structures just fine, but will not convert landscape, fences, driveways, grass, or other items that may be important for exterior work. 

In either case, we have seen people use Canvas (via both options) outdoors for many different projects, mainly for working on home exteriors. If you do want to try using Canvas outdoors, you can improve the likelihood of getting good results by:

  • Scanning around dusk
  • Scanning on an overcast day
  • Putting up some sort of cover or tarp to block out direct sunlight to the sensor
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