Matt's Blog

A Most Stupendous & Audacious Undertaking

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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.

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That's awesome.

You might be interested in this project also:

I was also idly wondering how one could set up a service to start autotagging video logs. Since, for video logs to be really useful, they'll need to be some kind of autoindexing feature.

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