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After seven minutes, the scan is finished, and a camera starts swiveling to snap panoramic photos of every angle of the scene. Each pixel from those images is matched with a point collected by the laser. In less than half an hour, the scans can be uploaded to a computer, where software stitches together the 3D color diagrams.

“We can get an aerial view when we’ve never left the ground,” Whitfield said. “We can be standing in front of a building, and then be looking out from one of its windows. We can see things we’ve never been able to see before.”