3D Scanning: Preserving our Past, Presenting our Future

From photographs, to building floorplans, to HDRI images, artists, technicians, and designers have always been adjusting and improving our tools and methods to capture and improve the world around us. With the addition of 3D technology, particularly 3D scanning, point cloud processing, and printing, we now have the ability to obtain surface and physical data of our surrounding environment, and use tools and software to manipulate and exhibit the realities of our past, present, and future.

A Look into the Past

3D scanning has provided insight into the restoration and preservation of ancient artifacts and historical landmarks. Organizations such as CyArk & The Smithsonian have been leaders in embracing these new technologies and pushing the boundary of application in regards to what 3D scanning can provide in respect to restoration, research, and the education of the general public.

CyArk’s mission is to ensure that the world’s cultural heritage sites are available to future generations by creating a free, 3D online library of the sites before they are lost to time, natural disasters, or destroyed by war.

The 3D image below is that of the Rani ki Vav, and it has a fascinating story: Translated as “The Queen’s Stepwell,” it is the most intricate of all of India’s Stepwells. Stepwells are a rather unique form of underground water storage systems on the Indian subcontinent and have been constructed since the third millennium BC. Rani ki vav was built as an inverted temple, has seven levels of stairs, and holds over 500 principle sculptures.

Rani Ki Vav

And now you can virtually visit and learn more about this amazing and UNESCO protected stepwell via CyArk.com.

Present Day Fun and Profit

Fast forward from our first moon landing to our present-day tech scape; the accessibility to apps and equipment is incredible. Only a few years ago, Microsoft Kinect technology had the population dumfounded and now, fast forward, you have technology retailers coming out with their own 3D scanning and virtual reality equipment. It’s not even a monopoly – you literally have the option as a buyer of whether to buy a 3D scanner via Windows 10 that can be incorporated into your phone, or if you’re a die-hard Apple veteran, as an app for your iPad. This accessibility is so robust that it gives users the ability to seek new bounds and diverse uses of the technology, while driving the market forward through competitive innovation.

The upgrade of tools and practice to the design and manufacturing trade have inspired the design-driven and business-minded alike to re-evaluate all parts of their respective pipelines and shape the way design and marketing is done in today’s retail and residential business.

Given the future direction of VR and the shopping experience, as well as the demand for 3D assets in those environments, 3D scanning will play an integral role in reducing the cost, time, and scope of creating these interactive landscapes.

Shifting from the retail market and into the residential sector, the accessibility of 3D scanning has also shaken up the practices of interior designers, architects and contractors. Even the DIY & hobbyist communities are getting involved. The days of cross-eyed examination of plans, elevations, and patched photographs to recreate a conceptual space have long passed, and now with the convenience of a commercial mobile scanner, you have the ability to gather point cloud data of an entire room in your home to then modify with prospective home redecorating and renovation projects. Needless to say, I’m sure the demand for the ability to “CTRL + Z” during home improvement projects will have this new technology significantly supported and financially backed.

On a smaller more practical level, this technology is equally interesting. Imagine the possibilities of scanning an antique architectural detail or a damaged hard-to-find auto part, fixing it in your favorite 3D CAD program (hint, hint) and then 3D printing a physical representation of it. The applications are nearly endless.

 

The Future is Here.

There are also countless stories about 3D’s role in ergonomic prosthetics, orthopedics, and dental work, accelerating into even more complex and impressive roles in the realms of medicine and internal surgeries, including the 3D scanning and libraries of hearts and related organs. Now as the medical field continues to push forward in this technology and shape the way our bodies run on the inside, the “aesthetic” driven business, i.e. elective surgeries and cosmetics are following suit.

One profile of a cosmetic medical practice is Dr. Yakup Avşar, founder of AVSAR Aesthetic Surgery Clinic in Istanbul, Turkey. He had previously developed surgery previews of his clients as hand sculpted masks. However, with the introduction of 3D scanning and printing, he’s been able to reduce his labor time, production cost, and environmental impact while simultaneously increasing his clientele’s confidence by providing a significantly more accurate preview as well as variations and options.

We understand that 3D scanning your face for potential improvement may not be appealing to everyone, but it’s another data point to show the potential of 3D scanning and printing for altruism, commerce, and even feeling better about yourself. What’s not to like about that?

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