Wednesday, January 8, 2014

App brings 3D scanning technology to smartphones (software)

Scientists at the Institute for Visual Computing have developed an app that brings 3D scanning to the smartphone, and makes it as easy as taking a photograph. That technology was demonstrated in for the first time at the International Conference on Computer Vision in Sydney, Australia.

Rather than taking a series of photographs that merge together to become a 3D model, this app allows the user to move the smartphone camera around the object. After a few motions, the object is scanned and a model appears on the screen. The more you scan, the more images the app collects and the more detailed the model becomes. Since all the assembly is done on the phone itself, you can see which parts of the model are lacking detail and tell the app to continue scanning those sections. This is much different from other apps that do all of their processing in cloud-based services.

The main benefit of 3D scanning software on smartphones is portability. An app that works correctly, with minimal complications, puts a 3D scanner in your hand, wherever you are. Depending on the type of camera and its capabilities, the app could scan an object in low-light conditions and a variety of weather conditions. The app uses the internal gyroscopes of the phone to make it easy to scan all the angles of an object. Two years ago this would have required large-scale machines running in conjunction with supercomputers. Now all it takes is your iPhone.

The technology can also capture 3D scans of faces and 360 degree scans of other objects. Instead of a standard portrait in your Photos app, you could have a 3D image of your loved ones or prized possessions. And, of course, having portable 3D scanning options enable you to more easily print those objects from a 3D printer...possibly even in a remote location.

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