Believe it or not, you can scan objects in 3D at very low cost. There are various ways to do this.
The Microsoft Kinect camera is very high tech but quite affordable 'depth camera'. In addition to a sophisticated microphone array and a normal video camera, the Kinect includes an infra-red projector that projects a pattern of invisible dots and an infra-red camera that sees those dots and allows the complex on-board electronics to calculate how far every dot is from the camera.
There are two varieties of the Kinect. The Kinect was originally developed for gaming on the XBox 360 but a later model was released for use with PCs. The PC model can see object that are quite close to the camera whereas the XBox version cannot. The XBox Kiect can also be connected to a PC. Free software such as that from www.brekel.com can be used with the Kinect. The Kinect and the Brekel software are really designed to work with moving objects. However, an exciting piece of software called Kinect fusion will soon be made available for the PC version which will allow you to scan, for example, a whole room by moving the Kinect around so that the Kinect software can build an accurate 3D model of the room.
This is what you need:
- A decent webcam
- A free piece of software called David-laserscan which can be downloaded from www.david-laserscanner.com
- A special 'line laser' which projects a line rather than a dot of light and which can be bought from the above site for about 30 Euros. You might even be able to improvise a line laser by shining a standard laser pointer through the stem of a wine glass
- A printout of a special calibration pattern which is included with the software
- A Windows PC
How does scanning with DAVID work?
1. Set up background and camera
2. Calibrate your camera with one click
3. Start scanning by sweeping the laser line over the object
4. Gaze at the 3D window and export your result in .OBJ format.
Each scan produces a 3D mesh of one side of the scanned object. To create a 3D mesh of the the whole object you must make several scans and join then together with software