Wednesday, March 11, 2015

3D Scan/Print Kiosks Review

I recently ran into two 3D scan/print kiosks in malls.  The first is DOOB, which has kiosks at Santa Monica Place, CA (just off Third Street Promenade) and Chelsea Market NYC.  The kiosk has a very large cylindrical room with a wall covered with cameras and lights.  You walk in, get captured instantly by the cameras, and then they ship you the prints in about two weeks.  Prints go up to 14 inches tall, but they are a little expensive, so I went for the cheapest one (4 inches tall).  The result is cool, but looks a bit "out of focus":

DOOB does not give you the mesh file, which is sad.

Then I ran into Twindom, which has studio locations in San Mateo, CA, Houston, TX, and a kiosk at the Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara, CA.  They also had a cylindrical "Twinstant" room with 91 cameras.  Unlike DOOB, "Twinstant" appears to use typical consumer DSLRs (you can hear them click), and it takes about a second for them all to snap a shot.  The prints I saw at the kiosk were clearly inferior to DOOB, so I did not bother with a print, but they said I could get a scan and download the mesh file, so I went for it.  Here is my mesh in mesh lab:

Overall the mesh looks OK, but a closeup of my face shows a lot of problems.  I think it might be useful if they dedicated some zoomed in cameras for enhanced photogrametry in the face.  As human beings, we are more likely to notice problems in the face than problems with your pants, etc.

My verdict:  Given the huge number of cameras in these rooms, I was expecting better results.  However I will admit that there is no simple way to quickly and affordably do an "instant" scan your entire body except for DOOB & Twindom.  My experiments with structured light Kinect & Scanect where I had to spin around on a chair without moving much did not do much better with my face.

On the other hand, if you just want to capture a 3D mesh of your face or torso, you are better off freezing in one place and letting a friend take 10 or so good shots with a DSLR and then process them into a mesh with Autocad 123D Catch.

That said, my kids are happy that I can now hang out with Peppa Pig and her friends!

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