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Matt's Blog

A Most Stupendous & Audacious Undertaking

Reflections on Maker Faire, 3D scanning, and life stories
The 3D scanning software we built now allows for live reconstruction of the images as we scan them. We wrote this UI in the few days before Maker Faire, and got to show it off all weekend. It was very well received, but it also had a significance that goes back several years:


In 2003 I took over 500 pictures of my room with the hope that sometime in the future I could feed these pictures into some algorithm that would generate a 3D reconstruction of it. Then I could show my kids and grandkids what my living environment used to look like. There is a program called Photosynth that aligns photos in that manner but it does not create accurate point clouds that could let you truly wander around in 3D.

I also have this art project I did way back in 1999 – a giant paper-mache dragon head that was a source of great excitement for a year or so but over time became ambient and eventually something a white elephant; something I cared enough about to not throw away but didn’t care enough about to have as part of my living space. Thus is became a burden in my storage locker. A couple of years back I had the desire to document it and then immolate it, but I never went through with it. While prepping for Maker Faire and the demo of our 3D scanning product, I saw the dragon head in my storage locker, and it suddenly became relevant again. I performed the act of digitizing this old art project again and again for an audience, showing how this emblem of my past could be captured and liberated as bits.

Original dragon head at Maker Faire, ready for scanning:

3D reconstructed dragon head -- viewable form any angle:


Dreams and desires of the past are manifested into the present, and the various narrative threads of my life become more interwoven. I make the future I want to live in.

The people at the adjacent booth had a 3D printer, and they kindly printed out a 3D copy of the dragon head. It was low-resolution and gray instead of color, but it gave me an inkling of this feat I’ve been wanting to accomplish for years.  It looks like there are some online services that will print a high resolution full-color 3D copy for around $16 per cubic inch. 

Here's one of the 3D prints the neighbors did for me:

Maker Faire 2011

I’m now scanning everything I can get my hands on. A guy walked by in a Master Chief costume – I scanned him and now have a 3D copy of him too. 

Maker Faire 2011 
Kinect 3D reconstructions  Kinect 3D reconstructions  Kinect 3D reconstructions

Life has been very busy lately, but I want to make sure I keep blogging.

NotEphemerisle Proposed City Plan
I put together a proposal for the NotEphemerisle city plan.  Urban planning is a lot of fun, especially when you can reconfigure your city in a matter of hours.

My thinking:

I'm trying to optimize for several things:
- Easy transport between houseboats (either from boat to boat, or via central platform and other projects) so houseboats must align at gates.
- City design that allows 47ft and 56ft houseboats to mix.
- Creation of a sheltered central area for community platforms and art projects.  (Last year, the koosh felt lost amid a long line of houseboats)
- Clear focus on community space
- Easy speedboat/patioboat/small craft docking at community platform, complete with an exciting promenade entryway experience in order to wow new arrivals on Saturday.
- Sheltered swim area for kids.
- Incremental assembly process that is robust to arrival of boats at various times.  
- Easy accomodation of an unknown final number of houseboats.
- From the outside (from most directions) it looks like a regular houseboat party... this helps us keep a lower profile.
- Not boring like 2010's design!
Some notes:
- The central platform and Terry's bar are on loose bits of rope, allowing them to be pulled toward either adjacent houseboats or the central platform.  This allows both these floating platforms to function as rope barges, allowing passengers to take a shortcut from houseboats at the end
- The sex platform is essentially also a rope barge.  Its position will have to be moved based on prevailing currents... users drift out on it, and then pull back when they're done.
- The reed art may move further out if there's too little wave action in the shared area.
I am not the leader of this event (there is no leader!) so you could ignore this design and attach wherever.  But it's in all our collective best interest to have a city design we like (whether it's this one or a different one).