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Structure Sensor 3D Scanner Update is ‘Like Autofocus for Still Photography’

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“It is to 3D scanning what autofocus was to still photography.”

That’s what Occipital says about the launch of their Structure SDK 0.4 and a new tracker update for their Structure Sensor scanner.

Occipital Scanner Update screenThe Structure Sensor is a 3D sensor for mobile devices which allows a user to capture the world as two-dimensional images but to understand and encode that information in three dimensions. Occipital says the Structure Sensor isn’t a 3D object scanner, but rather is a hardware platform that gives developers the ability to easily create applications that take advantage of a 3D sensor on an iOS device, and it does enable 3D mapping of indoor spaces and 3D object scanning for easy 3D content creation.

The Structure Sensor launched on Kickstarter in 2013, and the campaign ultimately raised nearly $1.3M from over 3,500 backers — in just 45 days. In doing so, it became the 6th most successful Kickstarter technology category project ever, and it was named a Popular Science “Best of What’s New” gadget for 2013.

Occipital says that while previous 3D sensors were designed to connect to game consoles and computers, the Structure Sensor has been designed for mobile devices like the Apple iPad via theOccipital Scanner Update Lightning connector.

This latest innovation from Occipital has to do with tracking, the process by which a 3D sensor is able to lock onto — and reliably track — its own motion in relation to an object being scanned. They say an effective tracking system “is nearly transparent to the user,” and add that even new users who have never 3D scanned an object should be able to quickly and easily capture a 3D model.

But Occipital add that new users of these devices and apps have found it difficult to capture useful results, and that previous systems have required “extensive practice and careful selection of scanning subjects for reliable performance.” Add to those issues the fact that the current tracking capabilities of most 3D scanners don’t capture uniformly shaped or textured objects such as balls or cans, and you have a recipe for unsatisfying results.

sensor_detail_uprightNow the company says that with this latest Structure SDK 0.4 update, a brand new tracker locks on to both the geometry of objects being scanned and the color data from both the object being scanned and the environment around it. The system does it by using data about the object’s shape from the Structure Sensor’s 3D depth camera in combination with data about the object’s colors from the iPad’s color camera.

According to Occipital, this broader set of data establishes and maintains tracking and eliminates most of the issues experienced by the new generation of 3D scanning enthusiasts. The Structure SDK 0.4 is capable of scanning uniform objects with few features.

The updated Structure Sensor Scanner app has already gone live on the App Store, and it includes improvements in object coloring for photorealistic rendering of 3D models and color texturing improvements.

Occipital also makes the excellent 360 Panorama photo app, and the company is based in Boulder, CO and San Francisco, CA.

Have you ever used the Structure Sensor to capture 3D data? What did you think? Let us know in the Structure Sensor Scanner Update forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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