Scientists at Disney Research have developed a new method of converting a collection of 2D images into a 3D model. While this approach is commonly done - and can even be accomplished on your smartphone with the 123D Catch app, the researchers have found a way to efficiently process huge images. This processing results in very detailed 3D models, unachievable with other techniques.
Current technology involves processing a series of 1MB images of a subject taken from different angles, but images of this quality do not provide much detail. Larger images, typically taken by modern DSLRs can be 20MB or more. The new approach can handle such images, bringing their detail right into the 3D model.
How effective is this technique? Just watch this video.
While this is still a research process, it will could appear in commercial products. The result might be a lot of very detailed 3D models - many of which would be interesting to 3D print.
As the resolution of 3D printers increases, we will need higher-resolution 3D models to print on them. This could be one way to obtain them.
Via Disney Research