3D Technologies at CES 2014

The March / April issue of Geomatics World includes a report on the International Consumer Electronics Show “CES” 2014. 3D Systems, Cisco Systems, Parrot and Velodyne were high profile exhibitors at the Las Vegas based event. In addition to this, Autodesk made an appearance to promote 123D Circuits as part of the Intel keynote.

3D scanning and 3D printing played a key role across all four days, January 7th – 10th. Intel announced their RealSense 3D sensor, while MakerBot outlined a strategic partnership with SoftKinetic in order to update the existing Digitizer scanning solution. The zone dedicated to 3D printing was sponsored by 3D Systems and showcased the South Carolina based companies Sense solution. Low cost ways to capture reality were used to support affordable 3D printers like the Cube across this 3D Printing Zone.

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3D Systems integrated the Prime Sense depth camera into their Sense workflow.

Overall, the International CES 2014 reinforced that a paradigm shift toward cheaper, easy to use 3D documentation is taking place. As discussed in the Geomatics World article, this shift is becoming a “prosumer” driven movement. It is taking place at a point where consumer and professional markets meet. Recent examples of this include the MakerBot Z18, which is providing a cheaper way to 3D print at an industrial standard.

Bre Pettis, MakerBot CEO, introduced three new Replicator printers at CES 2014.

Bre Pettis, MakerBot CEO, introduced three new Replicator printers at CES 2014.

    Project Tango

    A mobile phone equipped with a 3D imaging sensor has finally arrived. The fact that is has been developed by Google makes it a technology worth keeping an eye on. Given the experience Google has with mapping enviroments, which includes working with laser scanning companies like Velodyne, Tango is well placed to drive forward the idea of affordable 3D. It is not just a case of watch this space but wait to see how it is documented too.

    Prior to the acquisition of Prime Sense by Apple in November 2013, the Capri sensor looked like a viable way to turn mobile devices into 3D documentation tools.

    ETH Zurich, who appear to be a partner on Project Tango,  also came up with their own SfM based solution on a standard Andriod phone.












      Disaster Management Imaging

      Digital terrain modelling “DTM” will play an increased role in how disasters are managed in the future. The foundations for this were set in the first quarter of 2014 through the media coverage for weather conditions in the USA and UK. There were enough free services and solutions in general circulation – be it open source Geographical Information Systems “GIS” or camera based mapping – for  risk management strategies to be considered before the snow and rain set in. Even an image search in Google could have been used to generate 3D data for highly documented areas.

      3D Mapping

      The most obvious choice in terms of 3D mapping is structure-from-motion “SfM” – a low cost methodology that uses a flexible camera model to reconstruct a scene.  The SFM Toolkit / VisualSFM can be used to generate a point cloud from a desktop computer, with Meshlab used to convert it into a solid surface mesh. Once this is achieved, the next logical option is scaling the data to absolute coordinates in GIS. While data of a lower resolution may not be ideal for object or structure documentation, its use in landscape mapping is ideal if the accuracy required is in meters or even kilometers.

        Documenting the Super Bowl

        Fox will use Ultra HD “4K”, infra red “IR” and thermal imaging to document Super Bowl XLVIII (48). These solutions have already been used separately for the Baseball Wold Series and NASCAR.

        Flir Systems Incorporated supplied the thermal imaging for Super Bowl XLVIII

        Flir Systems Incorporated supplied the thermal imaging solutions being used at Super Bowl XLVIII

        Fifty two camera will be used in total, with stadium goers also benefiting from increased connectivity through Verizon and AT&T. The MeLife Stadium crowd are now a part of the media pipe line – providing live social media coverage and smart device recordings like photographs or video.

        Fox Sports Go will make the Super Bowl available through an iOS app.  The NFL and Version have also created a mobile device app. Past coverage includes an interactive Gigapan where people in the crowd can still tag themselves in a real life where’s Wally / Waldo scenario.