Point and shoot 3D scanner for less than $1,000

Fuel3D Inc. has developed a prototype point-and-shoot 3D handheld scanner that captures high-res mesh and color information of objects to form 3D images.

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Having previously developed 3D imaging products for the medical industry (wound care, specifically) Fuel3D Inc. has developed a prototype 3D handheld scanner for the general 3D market. On July 31, a Kickstarter campaignwith a goal of $75,000 was launched, in order to fund the project. As of today, on August 13, the campaign has raised $232,775.

Having far-surpassed the goal, the Fuel3D will receive funding; meaning that there is high likelihood if not a guarantee, that consumers will have access to this 3D scanner, which the company says will sell for less than $1,000.

The handheld scanner is a point-and-shoot 3D imaging system that captures high-res mesh and color information of objects to form 3D images. It works like a normal camera, in the sense that it is point and shoot, but it does more than just capture images, according to the Kickstarter page.

“We have developed the Fuel3D handheld scanner, a point-and-shoot 3D imaging system that captures extremely high resolution mesh and color information of objects. Fuel3D is the world’s first 3D scanner to combine pre-calibrated stereo cameras with photometric imaging to capture and process files in seconds.”

The way it works is that the Fuel3D scanner acquires a series of stereoscopic 2D photographs with several lighting directions, which are then processed by software to resolve a single 3D image. Fuel3D combines a number of image processing technologies to enable the acquisition of 3D images:

  • Photometric imaging is used to acquire color and high-frequency 3D detail from the subject
  • Optical localization is used to determine the position of the imaging device during acquisition
  • Geometric imaging is used to acquire accurate underlying 3D shape information from the subject
  • Data fusion is performed to combine the data output of the photometric and geometric processes to produce a single 3D image.

A scanner such as this could be used to capture 3D facial scans to show friends, but it could also be useful in creating 3D models, developing video games, or in animation. Considering the cost of existing 3D scanners, I would say that the Fuel3D system has the potential to be quite an attractive option.

With a scanner that costs less than $1,000, Fuel3D is likely to make its way into the hands of plenty of creative minds in the consumer market. It is interesting to consider what type of home projects and applications might surface as a result.

The first Fuel3D devices are set to be delivered to early bird Kickstarter pledgers in May of 2014.

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