Strolling around Rapid 2012 we encountered an unusual service named ShapeShot. What do they do? Well, they shoot your shape.
ShapeShot is a project from Baltimore-based Direct Dimensions, a consultancy that specializes in 3D scanning projects. That's what ShapeShot does: it scans your face and places it into an online repository. They feel it's like "next generation portrait photography".
The ShapeShot machinery is composed of hardware and software. The hardware is a flash-lit four-camera setup in which your head image is captured. The software is powerful 3D analysis programs that convert the four images of your head into a surprisingly accurate 3D model.
The model is then placed in their repository and you'll get a link to go online and view it. But that's not all. They provide the ability to download the model in digital form (at this time OBJ format only, but it sounds like they'll be providing additional formats soon.) They're also considering adding value features such as preparing printable 3D models from the face, thickening walls, or even hooking up to existing print services such as Cubify, i.Materialise, Shapeways, etc.
The website now has 4500+ faces in it, some of which are marked available to the public and some remain private.
While this is all quite fascinating, we wondered about the purpose of this repository. What would people do with it? How would they monetize the service? They said it is merely an experiment at this point and they're seeking partners to develop applications on top of their face repository.