One of the great things about 3D printing is that kids have definitely not been left out. Printer manufacturers, schools and government agencies are all very serious about making sure the technology is taught in the classroom at all age levels, and there’s no shortage of programs aimed at getting children interested in and engaged with 3D printing outside of school, as well. Then there are the products directed at kids. Plenty of printer manufacturers have designed 3D printers specifically for children, but toy companies haven’t hesitated to capitalize on the trend, either, by introducing 3D printers into their lines of more traditional toys.
One thing I haven’t seen so far, however, is a 3D scanner marketed towards children. We could see one in the future, though, courtesy of toy manufacturer Hasbro. Last week the US Patent and Trade Office published a patent application filed by the company for a kid-oriented 3D scanner that would allow children to scan their favorite toys.
It’s a relatively simple concept: a turntable, operated manually with a hand crank, slowly rotates the object placed on it while an iPhone, placed in a dock on the side of the turntable, photographs it in a double pass. The multiple photos are then converted to a 3D model, which can be incorporated into an online game, used as an online avatar, or 3D printed. Presumably, any type of smartphone could be used, though it does seem to be designed specifically with iPhones in mind, as Patently Apple points out:
“The patent notes specifically that ‘the portable electronic device can be, for example, a smart phone, such as an iPhone available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif.’ Multiple patent figures clearly illustrate an iPhone…What’s interesting is the potential of this toy being able to use Apple’s new iPhone 7 Plus that will reportedly carry a dual camera system which would be ideal for creating 3D characters in just a single pass rather than a double pass as the patent requires because of phones not having dual lens cameras as of yet. That could change in the blink of an eye when Apple’s dual lens cameras come to market on iPhones.”
The turntable also incorporates a panel that acts as a sort of blue screen, allowing for the scanned object to be easily digitized. Of course, it’s unknown whether anything will come of the patent application, which was filed in September 2015; it wouldn’t be the first time we got excited about a cool idea only to see it vanish into the black hole of patent applications filed only to float around in space for eternity. It would be a great way for kids to learn about 3D scanning, however, in a way that’s easy to grasp and relate to. Children love online games, and they also love personalization and customization. The scanning application would allow them to further adapt and customize the 3D models of their toys (or other objects), so that they can represent themselves in interactive games and communities in a way that’s unique. Doesn’t this sound like a great idea for kids? Discuss in the Hasbro 3D Scanner for Kids Patent forum over at 3DPB.com.