It was because of the United States Forest Service that LTI initially got involved in the professional measurement industry. Over the years, the USFS had worked with several companies to try to develop an electronic device that would quickly measure tree height and upper stem diameter, but to no avail.
LTI CEO David Williams called the Forest Service to offer help and they told him that if Laser Technology could solve the problem, the agency would buy 2,000 sets of equipment. LTI immediately started working on the solution that would revolutionize measuring for all foresters.
Criterion Revolutionizes Forest Mapping and Measuring Forever
The Criterion 400 concept was introduced in 1987, the first prototype was delivered in 1990, and 17 test units were provided for testing and evaluation by early 1991. Even after the project was started, the USFS asked LTI if they could add a flux gate electronic compass for traversing and positioning. LTI delivered that as well, and by the middle of 1992, the Criterion 400 was launched and began to change the way timber was mapped and measured forever.
LTI was the first company to integrate electronic data collection, sensors to measure inclination, azimuth and reflectorless distance measurement in an all-in-one portable design, and it was a concept that revolutionized mapping-grade measurement. The Criterion was the first handheld reflectorless total station in the world, and this portable system delivered measurements on a three-dimensional axis for many mapping applications. In combination with GPS (Global Positioning System) technology, the Criterion became an LPS (Laser Positioning System) and could give real-world coordinates to all features within range of the Criterion 400’s laser beam without occupying the point of interest.
The technology was quickly accepted by many other industries that had to make critical measurements to targets that were out of reach or dangerous to occupy. The cost of this equipment, users found, was quickly recouped through increased productivity and improved safety. Forestry and power utility professionals no longer had to get their feet wet wading through streams or plowing through brush just to reach the target location. Field professionals could now shoot in any location of their choosing to take measurements quickly, safely and most importantly, accurately.
Many of the original Criterions are still in operation to this day. LTI’s Criterion sales samples are now in our history museum and have been replaced by the more advanced Criterion RD 1000 and TruPulse line of lasers, which continue to amaze customers by their pocket size, low cost and expanded capability.
But the Criterion 400 holds a special place in our hearts because this was the project that revolutionized outdoor laser measurement and put LTI on the professional measurement and Geographic Information System map.