Scan Your Stuff
April 7, 12:00pm - 4:00pm
April 8, 10:00am - 2:00pm
Maybe you have an object that you'd like to preserve for posterity. Or perhaps there's something you'd just like to have a digital version of so that you can carry it around with you, and interact with it, like this:
If so, you're in luck. For just over a year the IRC has been developing a photogrammetry rig for research. It captures objects and turns them into virtual 3D models. This April the IRC would like to extend an invitation to the wider campus community to join us and capture your own items with our facility. We will be holding open hours from 12:00pm until 4:00pm on April 7, and from 10:00am until 2:00pm on April 8 in ITE 109. Students, Faculty, Staff, and university affiliates are all welcome to bring items to be scanned. Models will be built during the following week before being available for download. We are hoping to build a library of scans that challenge our capabilities and discover the limitations of our current processing. If you permit us to use the scan of your item in our library then we will make it available for other researchers to use, and it will become publicly available.
But just what is photogrammetry? Photogrammetry is a method of automatically reconstructing real objects into 3D models using flat images. We use 94 cameras to capture images of people and still objects, then use an algorithm to stitch the images together and reconstruct the geometry of the subject. This means we can capture true 3D models directly from reality without manually reconstructing the shape or textures.
Photogrammetry relies on the surface detail of the subject to allow points on the surface to be located in multiple images. Therefore it works best on objects that have matte or grained surfaces, like most natural materials. Skin, wood, most fabrics, and patterned surfaces have the best results. Shiny objects such as polished metal or shiny plastic are more challenging, and transparent items such as glass are not currently possible. We are happy to try anything, but must stress that this research is still evolving and not everything will give an accurate, detailed model. For this session we are targeting objects with a size roughly between that of a suitcase and a basketball.
The scans we generate are standard OBJ files along with a JPG texture. We will provide both a raw point cloud and a reconstructed mesh. Files will be available in the university box drive for the near future. Depending on the object scanned we routinely get between 500,000 and 2,000,000 polygons per capture. The models we generate may have holes where we could not reconstruct the surface or other artifacts. While we hope to eventually eliminate these issues algorithmically, for the moment they require manual touch-up. We are happy to provide the source files the model was generated from to help you make necessary changes, but cannot help with the actual manual processing.
You may be wondering what you would use your scan for. Photogrammetry is already being used in a wide variety of applications today. Artists can use photogrammetry to gather references without interpretation, giving a clean slate to build their vision on top of. Historians can preserve detailed models with real-world coordinates rapidly and without even touching the object they wish to preserve. Game developers and video producers can use photogrammetry to generate assets for their projects without having to spend hours reinventing objects and scenery they have already found out in the world. We are excited to open this world up for others to explore, and cannot wait to see what you will do with it.