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This Crazy, Hacker-Friendly 3D Scanner Helps Make a Copy of Anything You Can See

A 3D scanner, similar to Microsoft's Kinect, is coming to your mobile device

Three years ago, when Microsoft released their XBox 360 Kinect sensor, what was supposed to be a fun, gimmicky add-on for video gaming became a darling of the hacker community. The Kinect’s infrared sensors were mean to be used to track motion in three dimensions for goofy dancing games and that one where you play with a baby tiger. But in the hands of hackers the Kinect became something else entirely. It was a 3D scannera real-time control scheme for a precision set of laser tweezersa guidance system for robots, and so, so much more.

Now,  some members of the team that designed the technology for the original Kinect have a new product in mind. They’re building a device, called the Structure Sensor, that melds their three-dimension sensing technology to the mobile computing power of the iPad.

The sensor has one obvious use. The device will come with the ability to convert scans into CAD representations of the object right out of the box. Combined with a home 3D printer, you’ve got two halves of a replicator.

But the team is building their hardware to be hacked, and like with the Kinect, the most interesting uses will likely come down the line. This is the sort of technology that could, just for example, finally tip the scales on the home shopping revolution, letting you realistically try on clothes from home. If it works with high precision, it could also be a boon for designers, architects, decorators and others—the scanner comes ready to scan an accurate model of a room, which sure beats running around with a tape measure.

The designers turned to the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter for help jump-starting their business. Their campaign still has a month and a half to go and is already way more than fully funded: the team’s original goal was to raise $100,000, and the project’s already attracted three times that much.

h/t Popular Science

More from Smithsonian.com:

How Hackers Made Kinect a Game Changer
Kickstarter Works Best for Game Designers

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About Colin Schultz
Colin Schultz

Colin Schultz is a freelance science writer and editor based in Toronto, Canada. He blogs for Smart News and contributes to the American Geophysical Union. He has a B.Sc. in physical science and philosophy, and a M.A. in journalism.

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