April 4, 2014


Artec, the company that makes the 3D scanner we used on the Human Face of Big Data project just opened a retail store right across the street from Raygun to offer 3D scanning and printing. Sign of the times and what's to come. I remember the first laser printing service store opening up in Palo Alto in the 80s—it was called LaserWrite and offered the first desktop publishers a way to print their Mac creations. Then there was the first scanning, digital output and offset printing place, called Linotext in the 90s. Remember the term "Service Bureau"? And just a few years later AlphaCD Imaging popped up, a franchise too, offering PhotoCD scanning and converting your Syquests, Jazz and Zips to CD—alright, I think I've dated myself sufficiently. So now it's the 3D scanning, printing and face recognition retail store.

I had to check it out, of course. It seems that not only can you get the high end Artec scanning and incredibly detailed 3D output, but it's also tied in to this franchise called Shapify Me, with the idea that anybody with a xBox Kinect camera at home can scan themselves in and then have a small 3D sculpture printed for just 80 dollars there, or as the New York Times calls it—the 3D Selfie. There's definitely a connection to photography. I asked whether the sculptures are hand tinted, as they are reminiscent of the Märklin people waiting at the Black Forest train station, but not only is the 3D data captured but also a 3D photograph and printed as texture right onto the little sculptures. Very soft and Polaroid. But there is something eerily real about them.

For a few, well quite a few, dollars more you can have yourself scanned by the real deal—the $10,000 Artec scanner and then have a 6" replica of yourself printed in very high res with incredible photographic detail. That's for me! Or us actually. With the wedding anniversary coming up on April 1st, I couldn't think of a more unique, or for that matter a more geek memento. So I dragged Claudia over there. She didn't really know what was going on or what this was about, which was great and made it more of a surprise. Call it our Resin Anniversary ;-) Check out this 3D rendering of the model that came from the Artec scanner. I can't wait to see the print!

Want to see something crazy? Check out this UV map—the photo texture mapped onto the 3D scan: