Reykjavík-based Kúla has produced a gadget that can – almost – transform any smartphone into a rudimentary 3D scanner.
It’s a brilliant approach: they offer the “Bebe”, a dual-lens attachment for smartphones.
The Bebe includes two precisely oriented – and separated, this is important – mirrors. These mirrors reflect light from two different points of view into the normal smartphone camera lens. The result is a single image that has two views, a left and right, from points of view separated by the mirrors.
While the dual view image is of less interest, it can be processed by software in the smartphone to produce a variety of 3D file formats.
The Bebe can produce:
- Stereoscope images
- Virtual Reality images
- 3D TV
- Stereo viewer images
- CinemaBox (from Kúla)
- Anaglyph (Red/Cyan for use with 3D glasses)
This is all terrific, but something is missing here: a 3D model format like STL, for example.
I suspect one of the reasons the Bebe software does not produce such a 3D model is because the single-image capture contains only two views, insufficient to produce much 3D detail.
I suspect that with more sophisticated software the Bebe could take a series of dual-view images in a 360 degree pattern around a subject and convert it into a relatively high-quality 3D model.
Yes, you can do this with single view images with a variety of services, such as Autodesk’s ReCap 360 or Trnio. But the Bebe provides precisely aligned dual views with known angles. I suspect this characteristic could be leveraged by 3D modeling software to process the images more effectively.
But alas, Kúla is not there and has no indication they intend to head in that direction.
But the concept is still there and could be implemented by others with more interest in developing an efficient method of capturing 3D models with smartphones.
For now, you can pick up a Bebe (and some viewing mechanisms) for only USD$79 at their online store.