2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Structure Sensor: 3D scanning and augmented reality for iPad

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September 17, 2013

Structure Sensor brings sophisticated 3D scanning and augmented reality to your mobile dev...

Structure Sensor brings sophisticated 3D scanning and augmented reality to your mobile device

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Structure Sensor is a clip on accessory for iPad that's designed to let you 3D scan objects, play augmented reality games and build a digital manipulable model of a room, complete with measurements. Occipital is looking to bring this sleek device to market by raising funds on Kickstarter, where it exceeded its funding goal within the first few hours.

Occipital’s roots are in software, most notably the 360 Panorama app. However, after seeing the potential of the Kinect for 3D applications, founder Jeff Powers was inspired to create a similar mobile tool that wasn’t hampered by needing a powerful desktop CPU or electrical plug-ins.

The Structure Sensor attaches to your device using the included bracket, which overlays PrimeSense 3D sensors with the iPad's camera. IR lasers essentially allow the Structure Sensor to see in the dark or invisibly signal another device. Scanning range begins as close as 40 cm and extends to 3.5 meters, so can be used for small objects or for a whole room.

Structure Sensor can scan a whole room and provide measurements
Structure Sensor can scan a whole room and provide measurements

The Structure Sensor will ship with several demo apps, most of which have videos of their own on the Kickstarter page, but Occipital makes it clear that the project is really about creating a platform. Access to the low level sensor is open to developers, or there’s an API available for those who just want to use its features in their own apps. Hence, Kickstarter reward levels include packages for development teams and hackers.

Structure Sensor is hackable for use in your own devices, here, an Oculus Rift
Structure Sensor is hackable for use in your own devices, here, an Oculus Rift

However, the apps that are included are impressive. You can scan and export an object to CAD or for printing. Walk around your room, acquiring a 3D model which you can interact with for measurements or to zoom out to a bird’s eye view. The other two apps demo the augmented reality gaming potential. In one a virtual pet interacts with your furniture, while the other demos the app’s ability to find edges and corners, with virtual balls bouncing helter skelter around the real-time geometry of the room.

In this augmented reality demo, a virtual cat interacts with a real room
In this augmented reality demo, a virtual cat interacts with a real room

Despite the Structure Sensor being designed for iPads with the new Lightning connector, Android users aren’t left out in the 2D cold. Drivers for Windows, Android, OS X, and Linux are provided, and connecting is simply a matter of using the right USB OTG cable for your device.

It’s easy to see this device being useful in a range of functions for engineers, designers, realtors, or gamers. Pledges start at $349 and the company says it is "near ready to begin manufacturing the first run of Structure Sensors Betas," with shipping expected to start in February 2014. Below is Structure Sensor’s Kickstarter pitch video.

Source: Structure Sensor, Kickstarter

About the Author
Heidi Hoopes Heidi measures her life with the motley things she's done in the name of scientific exploration. While formally educated in biology and chemistry, informally she learns from adventures and hobbies with her family. Her simple pleasures in life are finding turtles while jogging and obsessively winnowing through her genetic data.   All articles by Heidi Hoopes
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5 Comments

it's a bit expensive for just a double-(IR)camera system with the right software.

(btw there are open source solutions for DIY camera setups)

MG127
17th September, 2013 @ 10:51 pm PDT

MG127, If you think it's a plain camera, you REALLY missed the point entirely. Is the Kinnect just a camera?

Why don't you actually take the time to read--not scan the article, and WATCH the video, before you make an uninformed comment.

yrag
18th September, 2013 @ 02:47 am PDT

yrag, why can't you just explain the difference instead of spouting all that hostile belittlement?

DonGateley
18th September, 2013 @ 03:10 pm PDT

And technology marches on! It will be only one or two years before this technology is integrated into smartphones and other smart devices, becoming as standard a feature as compass, accelerometer, GPS, etc. As Samsung continues to press the Galaxy Note into service as the ultimate computing aid, look for them to license this technology, miniaturize it, and implement it as a first in the Note 4, 5, or 6.

kalqlate
18th September, 2013 @ 10:06 pm PDT

That's awesome!

just like my idea for HomeDesignAR app !

sweet. I wish you guys good luck.

Shachar Oz
24th September, 2013 @ 06:02 am PDT
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