We’re checking out a forthcoming 3D scanning option, the Pixelio.
The Pixelio will soon join the ranks of several inexpensive sub-USD$1,000 3D scanning options. But it’s a bit different from the rest, as it’s not actually a 3D scanner itself. It is a 3D-scanning assistant.
What do we mean by that? It’s simply that it leverages other 3D scanning solutions and makes them easier to use. Specifically the problem they’re solving relates to optical-based 3D scanning approaches where you must carefully capture a series of images from 360 degrees. Separate software then processes these images and interpolates them into a true 3D model. One popular application that does this is Autodesk’s 123D Catch.
The “catch” with 123D Catch is that you have to take those pictures, and it can be troublesome to do so. Your resulting 3D model can be quite screwed up if you don’t have an appropriate set of images. This is what Pixelio solves: it is a kind of turntable mechanism that ensures you take a good set of images. Here’s how it works:
Your GoPro (or smartphone) is held in place on a rotating arm that precisely moves in 360 degrees around the subject. As it does so, it signals the camera to take a shot at the correct intervals by WiFi or Bluetooth. This ensures you have a good set of images.
However, there are a few other things to worry about, such as the size of the object: it must fit on the Pixelio and be small enough to fit within the view of the camera. Also you must ensure there is uniform diffuse lighting on the object, or else one side of your scan will be poor - but this is a problem all optical scanners have.
Aside from capturing objects for 3D printing, the Pixelio can also capture deadly panoramic images, as well as creating 360-degree still photos.
Currently you cannot purchase a Pixelio, as we’re waiting for their crowdfunding launch, which should happen soon. We’re told the price of the unit will be “less than” USD$199, and that you can “subscribe and get 40% discount”. This is quite inexpensive, but remember, it’s not a whole scanning solution; it’s a way to get good images for scanning services.