German Hardware Hacker Creates Kinect-Based Portable 3D Scanner

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Portable Kinect Scanner projectMario Lukas is a German maker, hardware hacker, and tinkerer, and he decided he wanted to build a low-cost, mobile, Raspberry Pi2- and Kinect-based 3D scanner.

Kinect is essentially a fusion of technology developed by a subsidiary of Microsoft Game Studios and on technology from Israeli developer PrimeSense. That company developed a method of interpreting specific gestures which made hands-free control of electronic devices a reality. The PrimeSense technology used an infrared projector and camera – and a special chip – to track the movement of objects and individuals in three dimensions. They called the 3D scanner system “Light Coding,” and it uses a variant of image-based 3D reconstruction to do its business.

IMG_2821_preview_featured-300x225The Kinect sensor itself is a rather unassuming horizontal bar device connected to a base which includes a motorized pivot. It includes an RGB camera, depth sensor, and multi-array microphone running proprietary software, and its capable of full 3D motion capture, facial recognition and voice recognition.

First announced on June 1, 2009 under the code name “Project Natal,” the Kinect was made available for commercial use during February of 2012. Within a very short time after the launch of Kinect, Microsoft said they were moving nearly 100,000 Kinects a day and they added that they thought 5 million would be sold by the end of the first quarter following the release. That number turned out to be closer to 8 million, and at $149 each, Kinect provided Microsoft with something well north of $1 billion in revenue in one quarter alone.

Mario Lukas

Mario Lukas

Lukas says his take on making the Kinect mobile came about as his girlfriend, an archaeologist, liked the idea of having a portable device she could use to scan objects and places in 3D to save and archive cultural heritage artifacts.

According to Lukas, it isn’t so much a hardware problem as it is a software challenge.

Commenters on the project had high hopes for the possible applications of Lukas’ work.

“This might turn out to be the first shot in a wave of spatial forensic data collectors for everything from mechanical repairs to crime scene analysis,” wrote Thinkerer of the idea in a post on Hackaday.

You can check out the complete documentation for Lukas’ Portable Kinect Scanner project on his site and on Hackaday.

And if this one isn’t enough to whet your appetite, Lukas is just wrapping up work on his FabScan PI, a standalone and web-enabled 3D scanner he took on as a school thesis project.

What do you think of this attempt to make the ultra-cheap Kinect a fully-capable, portable 3D scanner? Is this the kind of device you’d use? Let us know in the Kinect-Based Portable 3D Scanner forum thread on 3DPB.com. Below is a video of Lukas’ proof of concept for his project.

 

 

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