Tag Archives: Scanning

Your Smartphone Can Work as a 3D Scanner Now

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.

Converting Scanned Images into Editable Files

The printed world and the electronic one are primarily connected through computers running the OCR or Optical Character Recognition software programs. Traditional document imaging methods use a two-dimensional environment of templates and algorithms for recognizing objects and patterns.

Current OCR methods can recognize not only a spectrum of colors, but can also distinguish between the forefronts in a document from its background. They work with low-resolution images that mediums such as cell phone cameras, the internet and faxes provide. For this OCR methods often have to de-skew, de-speckle and use 3-D image correction on the images.

Primarily, OCR software programs use two different methods for optical character recognition. The first is feature extraction and the second is matrix matching. With feature extraction, the OCR software program recognizes shapes using mathematical and statistical techniques for detecting edges, ridges and corners in a text font so that it can identify the letters, sentences and paragraphs.

OCR software programs using feature extraction achieve the best results when the image is clean and straight, has very distinguishable fonts such as Helvetica or Arial, uses dark letters on a white background and has at least 300dpi resolution. In reality, these conditions are not always possible. To allow reading words accurately in less ideal circumstances, OCR techniques have switched to matrix matching.

Matrix matching falls in the category of artificial intelligence. For example, organizations such as law enforcement agencies include matrix matching in the software they use for recognizing images within video feeds. The process combines feature extraction together with similarity measurements.

Similarity measurement utilizes complex algorithms and statistical formulas to compare images relative to others within the same image or within the document. This helps to recognize images within a spectrum of colors even in 3D environments. This technology allows OCR software to recognize crooked images, images with too much background interference and images that need alteration for correct reading and interpretation. Matrix matching techniques are also better at recognizing images at a lower resolution.

Today, several OCR software packages include features that can de-speckle and de-skew the image. They can also change the orientation of the page. A special technique called the 3D correction can straighten images that the camera captured at an angle.

OCR has been traditionally linked with scanning software. The scanning process offers clues that make the OCR results more accurate. However, not all images are available in a hard copy, and a scanner may not be readily available. Sometimes, text to be extracted is available only in a PDF file or some other graphic file downloaded from the Internet. While older PDF files did not allow you to copy text, most of the modern PDF files created today have a cursor mouse pointer. That allows copying the text from the document on to your clipboard.

However, advanced PDF creating software includes features to protect the text in the converted document using a password. If you want to extract text from such protected PDF documents, your OCR software program will ask you for the password.