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  Feedback wanted on: 3D Optical Scanner for Indie Artwork  (Read 3210 times)
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Offline t_larkworthy

Senior Devvie

Medals: 1
Projects: 1

Google App Engine Rocks!

« Posted 2011-06-21 05:48:35 »

Hello JGO guys,

For the noobs, I am Tom of JOODE unfame. Before I get to my point, I'll give my quick background since I was active. JOODE (the java physics engine) was a tool for me to do robotics research in modular robotics, started as an undergrad some 6 years ago. Since my last commits, I did a PhD in robotics, in particular, motion planning for self-reconfiguring robots i.e. transformers. Now thats finished (phew! 5 years), I am spinning out a company which will build self-reconfiguring modular robotics hardware (if we get investment etc. etc. lots of unknowns so don't get too excited yet). Building this robotics kits is pretty hard, so we are trying to come up with a plan that incrementally builds the vision, one robotics application at a time (see*). I would like to pitch one idea to you, to get feedback, to see if you like it. One of the simplest applications I can think of that is a robotic building block to greater things and is modular and that might have targeted appeal is: a 3D optical scanner.

The optical scanner would be 2 modules. One camera module, and one module that has a 360 degree rotating plate. The rotating plate is placed somewhere with an object upon it. The camera is placed elsewhere but with the rotating plate and object in view. The software then spins the object, and translates the information into a CAD model. These kind of system exists in the professional world, but I don't think their is really a hobby level one ( is software only). I thought this might be useful for indie game devs. because 3D artwork is hard to come by, and its probably quicker scanning objects than drawing them. Indie devs seem to prefer 2D, but maybe this is because 3D art takes too long??

I would love to hear if you would think this might be an item you would watch with interest, or whether it is totally inappropriate for the things you do. I truly welcome negative and positive feedback, and conflicting opinions. The better I can judge the appeal at this stage, the better I can allocate my time.


PS Minecraft is awesome, hooray for Java, hooray for JGO and hooray Markus! *351 views as of posting. If any of you are journalists then this is not a story as yet.

Runesketch: an Online CCG built on Google App Engine where players draw their cards and trade. Fight, draw or trade yourself to success.
Offline CommanderKeith
« Reply #1 - Posted 2011-06-21 14:20:08 »

Dr Transformers, very cool work!

A 3D robotic camera would be great for making 3D models, but that's only half the job as far as a i know. Skinning and animating a model seems very difficult and I think that these parts turn indy devs off 3D games. Could your robotic camera help with this somehow?

Btw you might be interested in this, it's about evolutionary AI used to control robotic movement in a game:


Offline namrog84

JGO Ninja

Medals: 46
Projects: 4

Keep programming!

« Reply #2 - Posted 2011-06-21 15:44:46 »

Some quick summary a lot of indie devs and even some bigger firms are avoiding 3D or at least minimizing cost of 3D

3D art doesn't just take longer

It takes a completely different set of skill sets
-collision detection!
--indirect things like lighting/reflection/antialiasing/etc...

a lot of the "nicer" 3D tools cost a lot more then the nice 2D tools

typically has higher performance requirement
--3D physics is more computational expensive if you have physics.
--3D cameras require a lot more tweaking to adjust

The tool though, would be useful and would be used.
We can't simplify all the above in 1 giant leap, but each time someone develops a tool that makes a particular area easier.  Such as your tool, it will always benefit the community in some way.

I've always thought itd be neat to make a clay model and 3d scan in it

Also, one of the problems I see with 3D scanners sometimes is there limited size/capabilities with regards to a small object.  Id love to be able to have it scan full rooms, or even sides of buildings.

another comment
looking at the price/features of the link for example.
It would be even better if software was design to leverage existing hardware instead of trying to tack on costs of what appears to be nice equipment.  
Its now possible to get a headcam for under $100 that does 1080 resolution with 30-60fps recording of up to a hour.   Yet some specialized hardware sometimes wants significantly more for half the power.
Or perhaps the xbox 360's kinect with its built in 3d capabilities. ( I believe there are some open source software projects that are working on 3D scanning, leveraging the capabilities of the kinect ( hooked directly to PC and not use a 360)    once again a $100-150 hardware.  Then coupled with a low cost software(for amateurs)(with a free limited version at least) would be intensely beneficial.

Also aside from the indie game world,  there is a huge need for these types of things in the non game world.  I work as a mechanical facilities engineer and we often times dont have any drawings of rooms/equipment/hvac systems and would love a "3d scanner" to at least get the initial gruntwork of of location/measurements at least approximates out of the way.  I am not close enough to the "decision makers"  that I could ever influence them into purchasing a professional version but I could request a couple hundred dollar one very easily.

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Offline t_larkworthy

Senior Devvie

Medals: 1
Projects: 1

Google App Engine Rocks!

« Reply #3 - Posted 2011-06-22 11:48:06 »

Thanks for the feedback guys. I do believe there is a path toward helping with those other tasks. The reason why I want an early product to be optical scanning is because you can build upon the algorithm to get to visual mapping for navigation, with the bonus that you can use the same tech to do giant 3D scanners for rooms and buildings. 

An advantage of a modular scanner is that you can upgrade the kit with lasers, directional light recorders and flash guns fairly gracefully. I believe that by flashing colored lights at an object in different directions, you can recover an aesthetically convincing depth map and specular reflection information relatively easily.

Yeah the kinect is an awesome sensor, we have 2! (no xbox though  Sad) It took about 2 seconds for the robot community to integrate the kinect with everything. 1D laser range finder are ~£100, 2D ~£1000, 3D ~£10000, so the kinect is a total no brainer.

@CommanderKeith that video is awesome.

Runesketch: an Online CCG built on Google App Engine where players draw their cards and trade. Fight, draw or trade yourself to success.
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