Handheld 3D scanners are going to be an integral part of the 3D printing process of the future. Sure, you can hand design what you want in a 3D modeling program, or you can skip the work and download a CAD file of your choosing. But what if you just want to make a new dishwasher part that broke in two? Or what if you want to create for a friend a copy of a sculpture you own (boomtime for Intellectual property lawyers!)? Or maybe you just want a 3D memory of your young child’s head for a keepsake.
The best and easiest way to do any of those things is with a 3D scanner. Just wave your magic scanner around the object and presto, you have a precise model you can feed to a 3D printer. If only it was so easy. Precision is still a problem. Fixing up problematic areas of a model is still an issue. And price is always an obstacle.
We have a new entrant in the 3D scanner field now: MatterPort, a Y Combinator startup that has invented a small scanner that can scan any space or object and create a 3D model. We don’t know the price, but here’s what Matterport co-founder Michael Beebe says about the scanner, as reported in VentureBeat.
“We turn reality into 3D models and our scanner is 20 times faster and 18 times cheaper than any other tool on the market, We are creating fundamentally new technology, like the steam engine or the car.”
Apparently, you just wave the thing around, and the device while making up for your lack of precision, scans the environment while understanding all the shapes, their features, and their positions. The models shown in the video are unbelievably detailed; if that’s how they come out right after a scan, this is one powerful 3D scanner.
The Matterport website is sadly devoid of any actual product information; all there really is is a video, which is not as informative as the other one (shown above) we found on Matterport’s Youtube channel.
Given the models in the video, this looks to be a pretty sophisticated product, not one we’d think we are going to see in hobbyists’ hands anytime soon. But then again, Beebe did say, “18 times cheaper than any other tool on the market.” I know it’s all relative, so I’m not sure how cheap cheaper is. Hopefully inexpensive enough for the home and hobbyist market.
If anyone gets any pricing on this, please let us know.