The growth and development of 3d printing industry has skyrocketed because of the expiry of patents and the advent of opensource technology over the last few but the same is not true for some supportive techniques. 3d scanning is certainly one of them, and there is a strong reason behind it. Most modern day 3d scanner rely on an expensive image capturing mechanism called structured light, which is basically a series of light patterns that are casted on an object, to be 3d scanned. The images thus captured are stitched together to form a single 3D scan. To do all this, the hardware (the pattern projector and the camera) needs to be perfectly synchronised and therefore has to be best in its class.
Most companies working around the system have not been successful in reducing the cost of the scanners hampering the growth and affordability of the scanning technology.
Professor Gabriel Taubin, of the University’s School of Engineering, who had been researching on the 3d scanning knew that the problem of affordability could not be solved using current technologies hence his team set out to find unconventional methods to solve the issue. According to the paper submitted last month and published on the paper at SIGGRAPH Asia computer graphics conference, the team has developed a new algorithm that could potentially convert any smartphone into a 3d scanner.
Tauba explains "One of the things my lab has been focusing on is getting 3-D image capture from relatively low-cost components. The 3D scanners on the market today are either very expensive, or are unable to do high-resolution image capture, so they can't be used for applications where details are important."
The algorithm removes the synchronisation out if the equation which means any off the shelf camera that can take images In burst mode can now be used as 3d scanner.
A graduate student Daniel Moreno who worked on the algorithm along with Professor Gabriel Taubin explained the way it works "We can't use an image that has a mixture of patterns. So with the algorithm, we can synthesize images-one for every pattern projected-as if we had a system in which the pattern and image capture were synchronized,”
In simple words if we could shrink the hardware of a flashlight to fit to the size of a phone any smartphone could be used as a 3d scanner. Wouldn't that be a great news for the 3d printing enthusiast all across the world? We hope this happens sooner than later, till then we have our fingers crossed.