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Scientist Creates 3D Scanner App For iPhone 118

Posted by timothy
from the end-platen-nudity dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A research scientist at Georgia Tech has created a 3D scanner app for the iPhone which uses the phone's screen as a light source to quickly capture digital 3D models of faces and other objects. The app, called Trimensional, can output directly to a 3D printer to make physical copies of objects, which a few people have already tried. An Android version is in the works."
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Scientist Creates 3D Scanner App For iPhone

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @09:15PM (#35876320)

    There's a reason lasers are used to perform 3D scans.

    The iPhone screen is not a point source of light.

    Good luck making any parts which are more than crude attempts
    at copies.

    • See the links. Behold the lack of complete inaccuracy. Rejoice at the power of algorithms. Did you know you can assemble a DNA sequence for an entire 2.2 Gb organism from 100-nucleotide fragments, if those fragments overlap? Numbers are amazing sometimes like that.
    • by Dr Max (1696200) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @09:45PM (#35876492)
      Still, how long before pirating no longer applies to just data?
    • There's a reason lasers are used to perform 3D scans. The iPhone screen is not a point source of light. Good luck making any parts which are more than crude attempts at copies.

      Mount the iPhone/iPod into a sled, like they do with credit card readers, that provides the laser and a fixed geometry.

    • There's a reason lasers are used to perform 3D scans. The iPhone screen is not a point source of light.

      1. 1. Modify iPhone to add scanning laser.
      2. 2. Point iPhone at remaining good eye.
      3. 3. ???
      4. 4. Profit!
    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      kinect uses IR and does decently, yesterdays lasers are quickly becoming todays led's

    • There's a reason lasers are used to perform 3D scans.

      The iPhone screen is not a point source of light.

      Good luck making any parts which are more than crude attempts
      at copies.

      That's not what they use the laser for. It's a range finder. You don't actually need a range finder if you use video to extrapolate motion. You can actually capture 3d point cloud data just by using motion tracking software.

    • Yeah, duh.

      But a simple app like this* adds more popularity to 3d scanning and printing than a hundred "easy to solder" 3d scanner schematics. Joe Average would never ever build his own, or even buy a pre-built one.
      But if he can be entertained for 5 minutes by a free app, then maybe he could begin to understand the idea of 3d printers. And then maybe they could become economically viable to mass-produce.

      *I haven't actually tried the app, but I assume it at least could be made relatively simple to use.

      • by avgjoe62 (558860)

        Joe Average would never ever build his own, or even buy a pre-built one.

        I would buy a kit that would allow me to assemble my own 3D printer. Do you have an app that can tell me how to do that? ;-)

      • by toriver (11308)

        Joe Average would never ever build his own, or even buy a pre-built one.

        There was a time when Joe Average would never buy a laser (or inkjet) printer.

        Just tell Joe Average "with this gizmo you can make your own car parts on demand!" and you have an instant sale.

  • by WarpedCore (1255156) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @09:15PM (#35876322)
    I'm kind of leaning on the idea that the "anonymous reader" that submitted the article might be the author of the software.

    The software barely works. You need to lock yourself in a pitch black room for the thing to even remotely register the geometry correctly. Anywhere with any hint of light other than from your iOS device screen totally throws it off. Put your money into a more worthwhile 99 cent investment/scientific achievement... Fat Booth.
    • Still cool clever programming.

      Wait until they make an iPhone laser scanning accessory so you can do it better.

      • by bloodhawk (813939)
        It is highly unlikely to EVER significantly improve, It is like trying to use a sledge hammer to open peanuts, sure you can sorta do it, but no matter what they do it will still be a clumsy, stupid and pointless way to do it that can be done a 1000 times more effectively with other devices.
    • by MBCook (132727)

      I still thought it was kind of neat, and I wanted to use it with my Thing-o-Matic [makerbot.com], and at $0.99 I'd happily buy it. But then I start reading the description of the last update: STL and point cloud export available with an in-app purchase. In app purchase cost? $5.

      I'm not interested enough to pay $6. I really dislike in-app purchases that are so much more than the app was. If the app included the functionality and cost $3, I'd happily buy it. The app has to generate the same set of triangles whether it's j

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      OMFG software with REQUIREMENTS?!?

      ahhhhh!!!! run!!!!

    • by ksandom (718283)
      Think back to your days working in tech support. Remember the noob on the other side of the office who always had a problem and was always looking for a way to tell you your work is wrong?
    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
      Yes, but it will barely work a whole lot cooler when it isn't on an Apple device. Stupid closed system, anyhow.
  • That is just super cool. This is the kind of stuff that gets me excited about the future.
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      This is the kind of stuff that gets me excited about the future.

      The only thing exciting thing in the future is the royal wedding next week, after that it's all downhill 'til the heat death of the universe.

  • I have never got a convincing reason as to why individuals and companies develop iOS applications before Android applications even when Android is clearly more popular than iOS...at least in the USA. Why?

    • Why not? In this case, the guy is a research scientist and likely doesn't care a whole lot about market share. Secondly, I'm guessing he has an iPhone rather than an Android phone and so he's more likely to develop for the phone he has.

      Companies often develop for the iPhone first because iPhone owners are more affluent and spend more money on apps than Android developers.

    • Because its not just the iPhone. Unless it uses a device specific module (like GPS) then the apps will also work on iPods and iPads. Putting all 3 devices together makes for a number thats vastly greater than Android.

      You also have the repeatability factor. If it works on my iPhone, it'll work on yours. With android being on multiple devices, the software may be the same, but the hardware might not.

    • by unassimilatible (225662) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @09:51PM (#35876542) Journal
      If you count the iPad, iOS is kicking Android's booty. Besides, the people who buy Androids don't buy apps. They are cheap people who want 1-cent phones, or geeks who think everything should be free. iPhone owners buy way, way more apps, so developers go where the money is.
      • by llZENll (545605)

        so true, if you look up the figures Apple accounts for 99% of all mobile software sales, andriod doesn't even come close, piracy is rampant on andriod. its bad on ios, but destroying the andriod software market, if it weren't for ios, there wouldn't be hardly any andriod apps. if you are a mobile software developer its pretty much common knowledge your #1 goal is ios, if you then have a hit on ios, then do a port for andriod and expect 1/20 - 1/100th the sales even though there are 10x the number of devic

      • by MBCook (132727)

        Even without the iPad, iOS has a huge installed base thanks to the iPod touch. This app is limited since it needs the front facing camera (limiting it to the iPhone 4, newest iPod, and iPad 2), but it's still a massive number of potential customers.

        There is also the fact that the iPhone is easy to develop for, and has a huge development community. Android is supposed to be pretty good (and certainly head-and-shoulders above Symbian), but if you have a question about how to do something on iOS, it's pretty

      • by Idbar (1034346)
        Laptops are and have been more popular than any other mobile devices. They are also more powerful. Why jumping to write this application for iOS or any other cellphone where you know the lack of a light source is very random.

        Go ahead and modify a logitech or other webcam with your own light sources IR, laser, LED, whatever and sell your company to them or start the competition.

        A "phone app" seems just nor appropriate for the job, just hype.
      • I am on pension, as are over 25 million Americans. I have a choice. Doctor bills or iPhone or Android. Well, I ditched the landline and got an Android. And I am very very happy with it. I use the phone as a phone, Not as a game pc or a toy. OK, I can also play music with it, but do I need things that are distractions and time wasters?
    • by jo_ham (604554)

      Perhaps the fact that Apple has paid a cumulative 2 billion dollars to third party developers who release apps on the App Store?

      While Android is "more popular" (citation needed - how many people are saying "I want an Android phone" compared to "I want an iPhone"? - I will wager that it's not popularity that has given Android its market share, but the plethora of devices it is available on, some of which are cheap and nasty, some of which are definite iPhone competitors).

      Either way, the iOS app market is a f

    • Because iOS users purchase more apps. Or, to be more specific, the amount of $$$ spent in App Store over a given period of time is bigger than that in Android Market.

    • Because it isn't. There are more Androids than iPhones, but there are more iOS devices than android devices by a very large margin (50%).

      Additionally, the average iOS user is willing to pay more than the average android user.

      • Relevant : John Carmack [nowgamer.com] on iOS vs Android

        "With Rage HD on iOS do you see yourself ever working on Android?
        Every six months I’d take a look at the scope of the Android, and decide if it was time to start really looking at it. At the last Quakecon I took a show of hands poll, and it was interesting to see how almost as many people there had an Android device as an iOS device. But when I asked how many peple had spent 20 bucks on a game in the Android store, there was a big difference. You’re just

    • One day, when you move out of your moms basement, you will run up against a number of challenges in our world.
      The company that provides electrical power to your moms house wants money in proportion (and then some) to the amount of money your mom extracted from their circuit.
      Similarly, the water and fuel companies want a cut. The government wants one for something else, and all this before paying for the actual house.
      In effect, they all want money. So, when you step out to this 'democracy of debt', and wa

    • I have never got a convincing reason as to why individuals and companies develop iOS applications before Android applications even when Android is clearly more popular than iOS...at least in the USA. Why?

      Like or hate Apple, developers make money with them.

    • by rolfwind (528248)

      I have never got a convincing reason as to why individuals and companies develop iOS applications before Android applications even when Android is clearly more popular than iOS...at least in the USA. Why?

      Because iPhone users are actually paying money for the apps.

      http://www.mydroid.info/android-apps/guest-post-iphone-vs-android-apps-whos-making-more-money/ [mydroid.info]

      The app market is expected to exceed 15 billion dollars in revenues. It is estimated that there will be roughly 17.2 billion app downloads worldwide. The

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      There is a much higher proportion of idiots amongst iPhone users, so it's easier to mug them.
      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)
        Ah, yes, the Iphone user as dolt explanation. Like it or not, if there are going to be applications, there will be a need for people to write them. While some people want to distribute applications freely, out of generosity or simple love of the craft, there will be another group that want to fend off starvation, and might consider writing these things as a way of doing that. And if there are people who might pay for these applications, everyone is happy. Except you.
  • You gain the ability to export through a one-time in-app purchase.

  • ...the inevitable commercial.

    You wouldn't copy a VCR.... You wouldn't copy a car.... Don't copy movies....

    • by xMrFishx (1956084)
      I believe it's "You wouldn't download a car". Though I do believe, I would if I could. Oh-ho yes.
  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Tuesday April 19, 2011 @09:34PM (#35876430) Journal

    How long before advances in scanning and 3D printing will allow for any object to be analyzed and recreated so cheaply that it replaces traditional manufacturing processes? And then the next step is to cut out the scanning and just make originals from digital schematics. It's probably an inevitability that such an industrial revolution will happen, but I'd really like to see it in my life time; I'll likely live another 60 years even disregarding medical advancements so I think I just might. It's also interesting to think about the restructuring society will be forced into with such advancements. The hilarious parody of the music industry's anti-copying ad, "You wouldn't download a car." might somewhat resemble reality as the traditional power structures of capitalism, finance, and industry struggle for life in their death agony. In a world where every village has a Star Trek-like replicator, there's going to be a lot of pissed off robber barons and Shenzhen factory bosses.

    This is a pretty cool demonstration of the technology, but it's just a toy right now. In its mature state it's going to make quite a lot of people nervous and angry. If we thought adapting to an age where information; books, music, movies, ideas, can be replicated and distributed at virtually no cost, we are going to be in for quite the shock when the same paradigm (or one like it, as raw materials will still need to be mined, grown, produced, etc) is brought to physical, tangible objects.

    Yes, I would download a car...if I could.

    • by crossmr (957846)

      How long before advances in scanning and 3D printing will allow for any object to be analyzed and recreated so cheaply that it replaces traditional manufacturing processes?

      Until we get star trek like replicators, never.
      Unless we're talking about boring plan constructs, like blocks of wood or the like. Anything else you'd have to model an interior as well as interior parts. You're sure as heck not going to be printing yourself up a calculator.

    • by SheeEttin (899897)
      Yeah, you try printing a car. See how durable ABS plastic is.

      As for making originals from digital schematics... It's called computer-aided design [wikipedia.org], and it's old news. You can probably find schematics for just about anything you'd ever want to make on the Internet.
    • Well said! The world will be a very different place once 3D printing technology matures. Assuming, of course, that the current manufacturing industry doesn't realize the threat this will eventually pose and tries to stifle it...
    • How long before advances in scanning and 3D printing will allow for any object to be analyzed and recreated so cheaply that it replaces traditional manufacturing processes?

      This is a fun mental exercise, but you need to consider that there's a reason most of the stuff we buy is made up of more than one substance at a time. Try to imagine what would really be involved in 3d-printing a complete PC and you'll start to get the idea. By the time you've accumulated small amounts of gold and silicon and everything else, you might as well have purchased the cheaply made machine whose resources were purchased at a volume discount.

      As somebody else stated, you need Star Trek replicator

    • by dbIII (701233)

      How long before advances in scanning and 3D printing will allow for any object to be analyzed and recreated so cheaply that it replaces traditional manufacturing processes?

      Probably never in entirity because a lot of manufacturing processes are very very cheap for making things in bulk. This stuff is very useful but looking for using it to replace absolutely everything else is asking a bit too much of it when some things can be done without requiring as much complication or effort.
      Making things from "digita

  • I could think of all kinds of interesting things to try to get 3D images of with this software, why are all the examples only of someone's face?

    Also, the articles mentioned similar software for desktop operating systems. Can anyone name a few? I have a camera built-in to the lid of my triple boot Macbook so I could experiment. Unfortunately my iPod does not have a camera.

    • by MBCook (132727)

      That was my thought too. It would be so easy to use this to get a model of some small toy like a hot wheels car, or even just something like a few keys on a keyboard.

    • I could think of all kinds of interesting things to try to get 3D images of with this software, why are all the examples only of someone's face?

      Precisely, who in his right mind would scan a face?
      The first picture a normal sane male would take is his penis.

  • ...of the porn variety in 3..2..1..

  • What would happen if two iphones tried to scan each other at the same?

    Singularity?
    Implosion of the known universe?
    The app author laughing maniacally at the two fools who paid for this app?
    • What would happen if two iphones tried to scan each other at the same?

      The same thing that happens when you put two video cameras in front of each other.

      The app author laughing maniacally at the two fools who paid for this app?

      Sour grapes?

  • I wonder if there's any way to do this with structured light [wikipedia.org] or one of the other 3D scanning methods. I don't know if it would be possible to do with the iPhone screen, but aren't there phones hitting the market soon with those pico projectors built-in? It's my (limited) understanding that there are a lot of different ways it may be possible to improve the accuracy. Man, the future looks awesome.
  • Tried it months ago when I saw it.
    Kinda sucks for now.
    Pitch black room
    Sketchy accuracy ...

    Sure it will push people, which is a good thing.

    This however will soon be forgotten.

  • I don't have time to grow a beard!

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