Barring professional photographers, almost all possessing smartphones capture images of everyday objects using the onboard camera. Additionally, most smartphones today come with cameras of respectable resolution, with recent ones reaching 21 MP. Now, you can use the camera on your mobile to scan objects to reproduce a 3D image.
Researchers from the Computer Vision and Geometry Group at ETH Zurich have created an application that can transform your smartphone into a portable digital scanner. The 3D mobile technology created by the researchers allows users to scan objects by snapping pictures on the fly. Scanning in outdoor environments is also possible for modeling scenes or arbitrary objects.
Very soon, using the 3D mobile technology, people will be able to use their ordinary mobiles to capture visual 3D representations of scenes and objects as realistically and easily as they take photographs today. Although alternate solutions for 3D scanning do exist, they require hardware dedicate to 3D scanning. With the 3D mobile technology, scanning and generating a three dimensional image becomes as easy as taking pictures. This is of great benefit to the DIY and hobbyist crowd, especially for those without design or engineering degrees.
The user only has to move his phone all around the object of interest. Instead of a conventional photo, the mobile will generate a 3D model of the object on its screen. If any part is missing from the 3D image, the user can add that by [pointing the camera and cover the missing parts. The important part is all the calculations for generating the 3D image happens within the phone, so the results of the calculation are immediate. According to the researchers, apart from being of immense use in daily life, this technology will be of use in the fields of commerce and cultural heritage as well.
Businesses and industries are also showing great interest in the technology, as this has the potential to reshape the 3D scanning and printing industry. As this relatively low-cost duplicating method takes shape, companies begin to grapple with the implications. According to some experts, this method of object reproduction, needing no knowledge of computer design software, will break down the existing barriers in large sections of industry – probably sparking the next industrial revolution.
There is another aspect to this innovative technology. According to professor Pollefeys of Computer Vision and Cultural Heritage, this new 3D mobile technology can also modify the way cultural assets are digitized and preserved at present. This will make the assets accessible to all and will unlock the potential for reuse of the assets. Archaeologists and other cultural heritage professionals can use this technology to combine computer vision, 3D modeling, and virtual reality.
Museums could make exact replicas and precisely simulated objects that visitors could handle or touch without causing damage to the real artifact. A new market could open up with the demand for 3D portraiture or personal statuettes, which people could generate on their own or order. It would be possible to enhance, morph or tweak the models using a computer, opening up space for creative play or editing.