A Few Applications of 3D Scanning


A few months ago, I was browsing the amazing talks on the TED website, and was inspired by a presentation which discusses the use of 3D scanning to preserve historic landmarks. This process is indispensable to the digital preservation of finite structures. This rings especially true in countries and areas of the world that might be experiencing political, social or religious unrest or even areas sensitive to natural disasters as result of extreme climate change.

3D scanning was also featured a couple of years ago in a History Channel show called Death Masks. Although slightly morbid, the technology was used to bring historical figures back to virtual life by scanning their plaster-cast death masks. Not only was the 3D data used to recreate facial features but also impressions of hair and skin so giving us a glimpse of their true appearance. They are now immortalized in digital format.

The film and broadcast industries also make great use of 3D scanning for visual effects. A set or location is scanned, usually with LIDAR technology, and the point cloud data is used to recreate a location digitally to assist with compositing or generating set extensions.

I am excited that I can also tie this blog to the recent movie, Prometheus (loved it!!!). 3D scanning pops up here when the crew of Prometheus investigate an odd structure on the moon LV-223. The team archeologist, Fifield, tosses his pups (cool looking, flying 3D scanners) into the air and their data is beamed back to the Prometheus where a 3D hologram of the interior of the structure they are in takes form. Way to go pups!

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