Celebrating 25 years of Luciad

The Luciad portfolio of products – the most powerful geospatial toolkit available for critical problem solving – celebrates its 25th anniversary today.

The company Luciad began with two brilliant software entrepreneurs in Leuven, Belgium, in 1999.

Lode Missiaen and Thierry Salvant had an idea for a new kind of software that could take operational data and allow a user to visualize that data on a map. But not just static data – moving, dynamic data that could provide a common operating picture of, for example, the combination of pilot charts, military airspaces and planned trajectories of planes.

“It was not GIS. (Missiaen and Salvant) called it a situational awareness system,” said Gunther Sablon, one of the five original employees of Luciad. “You could put all kinds of data into one map and see the combined view. It was a common operating picture for situational awareness. You could answer questions such as ‘Where is my enemy? Where is my friendly support?’”


A screenshot of what Luciad looked like in 1999

Luciad in 1999

A screenshot of the current Luciad design

Luciad today







Both Missiaen and Salvant had worked for NATO, and knew that NATO didn’t have anything like this, according to Sablon, who now serves as vice president of process and information management at Hexagon’s Innovation Hub.

NATO became Luciad’s first customer, followed soon by EUROCONTROL, the agency that regulates air traffic control for all of Europe. Other contracts followed, including a custom geospatial asset management system for BASF, which operates one of the world’s largest chemical plant in Antwerp, Belgium. The French Ministry of Defense was also an early customer, and all three are still customers today.

Since Hexagon acquired Luciad in 2017, the portfolio has expanded and evolved, but stayed true to its core mission of bringing data together with real-time .

The portfolio now includes LuciadFusion, an all-in-one server solution for geospatial data management; LuciadLightspeed, advanced geospatial analytics for desktop and onboard applications; LuciadRIA, which brings desktop-like situational awareness to web applications; and the newest product, LuciadCPillar, a desktop and onboard API for C++/C# developers to support mission critical solutions.

“Luciad has strong roots in government, transportation and defense markets,” said Frank Suykens, senior vice president of visual computing of Hexagon. “Over the years, the Luciad technology in Hexagon has spread over other markets. It is used in mining, digital twins, smart cities, smart sites, reality capture and other new industries.”

Luciad’s solutions were tailor-made for the markets where Hexagon was already successful.

According to Suykens, “Luciad technology was designed from day one to cope with a wide variety of geospatial, 3D and operational data sources. This means you can connect to real-time data from the field, combine it with the latest geospatial intelligence data and visualize and analyze all that data instantly. With Hexagon a leader in geospatial data processing, asset management and reality capture, the addition of real-time and 3D was a logical fit into the Hexagon portfolio – both for Luciad and for Hexagon.”

LuciadCPillar has been a groundbreaking product for mobile developers, and it is also used internally by Hexagon. Browser-based LuciadRIA has also become a revolutionary product for Hexagon.

In fact, LuciadRIA forms the basis for visualization and application development of HxDR (Hexagon Digital Reality), Hexagon’s cloud-based storage, visualization and collaboration platform for reality capture and geospatial data, and makes its way into many other web applications inside and outside of Hexagon.


“It visualizes a huge variety of 2D and 3D data – the planet, cities, factories, plants, harbors, buildings, traffic patterns, etc. – in a way that makes it usable by any user on any device,” stated Suykens.

He added that “the everlasting, can-do attitude of the whole Luciad team,” has been the hallmark of the past 25 years.

“I am thankful to the Hexagon team that they also saw this and acknowledged it,” he said.

Vincent Rifici, country manager in the Benelux and France for Hexagon’s Safety, Infrastructure & Geospatial division, recalled that going into sales meetings with Luciad solutions always gave him great confidence.

“The technology has always been innovative, and highly competitive in its area of expertise,” Rifici remarked. “In fact, the number of times we ended up as sole source, being the only one able to comply to all very demanding requirements, are countless.  A dream for any business developer.”

For Rifici, working with the Luciad team has always been “a pleasure and an honor.”

“You feel supported by all,” Rifici said. “A team that goes the extra mile, with a can-do attitude, through a constructive and transparent communication, has always been and still is a major motivating factor for me.”


Learn more about the Luciad portfolio of solutions.

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