Like raster and vector data many years ago, 3D clouds of billions of LiDAR points — which can be colored and very realistic — are an exciting new data type. However, they pose many software challenges, and software vendors are working hard to develop new software to manage, process, visualize, and extract features from point clouds.
The first challenge posed by LiDAR to computer software and hardware is the huge size of the files generated by ever more powerful scanners. Often, the limiting factor is the operating system. For example, the 32-bit operating system can handle only files of up to a few gigabytes, and most systems are not designed for such large datasets. Though software providers have made progress in how they handle the display of point clouds, experts agree that this remains a challenge.