Only a short time ago, creating a three-dimensional, 360-degree image was extremely expensive. Now, following the boom in 3D printing, hand-held scanners are available for less than $500.
MU3D is experimenting with Occipital’s Structure Sensor, a small scanner that attaches to an iPad.
To use the scanner, the photographer circles the subject, swiping up and down as if painting. The software indicates what areas have been scanned and allows one to go back and cover “holes” before the final scan is saved.
Once processed on the iPad, the scan is uploaded to Sketchfab.com , an archiving site not unlike YouTube. Images in Sketchfab can be embedded in any website. Images can also be used with a 3D printer.
The tremendous advantage to the news media is that Structure-created scans need no special equipment for the audience. The scans also provide a double dose of engagement — viewers first click on the static image, then click to manipulate the image. This encourages more time on the site.
The Columbia Missourian published scanner images and plans to use it for more assignments.