Now that you can be scanned and 3D-printed in miniature form, two-dimensional portraits seem so last century. Of course, this novelty is way more expensive than a photograph, but now a company called Twinkind located in Hamburg, Germany is offering a 3D portrait service where the lengthy scanning process has been made as quick and painless as having a photo taken. You can even scan your pets, as they don't need to stay still for 20 minutes at a time!
Like a traditional photography studio, you simply stand inside Twinkind's proprietary photogrammetry 3D scanner, similar to the multi-camera set-up used to create the bullet-time effect in the Matrix films. Essentially a ring of cameras simultaneously snap photos of you from different angles, and then software analyzes the photos and automatically generates 3D geometry.
The process has a few limitations, such as the fact that you can't wear semi-transparent or shiny clothes, as they tend to mess up the software. Additionally, very small details like a pointed finger may break during the printing process or soon afterwards. The cool part is that the color and patterns from the photos is mapped to the digital you, and voila – your Mini Me is ready for printing in about 30 minutes. At this point you're free to go, as the whole process will take between two to five weeks.
Full-color 3D printing is still an expensive process, and the price is dependent on the size of the print. Twinkind is offering seven different size options, from 15 cm (6 in) to 35 cm (13.7 in), which range in price from €225 (US$290) to €1,290 ($1,680) which is in line with similar services. It's pretty steep even on the low end, but then, where else are you going to buy a photorealistic miniature of yourself?
As for the printed figures, the quality is pretty good (see the photo gallery). The prints are made from a composite powder material that is laser-sintered layer by layer, giving it a clay-like surface. The resulting prints are less durable than plastic, so the company says you need to be careful about heating them over 60°C (140°F), getting them wet, or placing them in direct sunlight (as the colors can fade).
There have been a handful of 3D printing photo booths opening up around the world, but they require that you strike a pose and remain perfectly still for upwards of 20 minutes during the scanning process. Others, like the Makerbot 3D photo booth, only scan you from the neck up and only from the front. That leaves you with an incomplete bust, and while it's significantly cheaper, the print is done in monochromatic ABS plastic, making the details hard to sort out.
Is it creepy to want little figurines of yourself and loved ones if you don't intend to play with them?