Scanning and 3D printing an object could become much simpler if 3D printing company Volumental is successful in crowdfunding the development of a web app which would allow users to scan and print 3D objects using nothing more than a Kinect sensor and a web browser.
Though the company already has a web service that allows people to upload scanned 3D models, Volumental says that it needs to refine an app which is better able to differentiate a thing (toys, pets, family members are among the suggestions) from its surroundings in order to be able to print the object in isolation. Though this is a tricky problem to solve, the company claims it knows how to do it, and simply needs to hire a developer to get it done.
If funded, the app raises the exciting prospect of being able to scan more or less anything. Connect your Kinect sensor to a laptop tethered to a smartphone and you theoretically have yourself a portable 3D scanner with which to snap a quick model of anything you fancy a 3D print of, which would arrive soon after on your doorstep. The team claims the process will be as easy as streaming a movie using Netflix.
Volumental is aiming to develop the app inside of three months. Though the delivery date for pledges is January 2014, the company says this represents a "worse case scenario."
Though that sounds ambitious, Volumental is not a beginner in the field of 3D scanning. The company has grown out of Kinect@Home, a web project that allows Kinect owners to upload 3D scans onto the web developed by Stockholm Royal Institute of Technology Computer Science PhD Alper Aydemir and PhD students Rasmus Göransson and Miroslav Kobetski.
The available pledges get interesting at the US$50 mark, which will net you a 3D print of any model you scan and upload. Other pledges make 3D models available to downloading for people with access to 3D printers. Some also throw in a depth camera for people that don't already have one. This may not be a Kinect, as any OpenNI-standard depth camera should work.
You can see the team's campaign video below.