Capture the World with 3D Technology

Photogammetry and drones are becoming more common with businesses and other industries

Sample & Hold is a London design studio and their clients have asked them to scan just about everything. This includes the heads of the entire Barcelona FC team, a carrot, and even a shoe.

The design studio has also worked with a company that makes casts of babies’ heads and feet. According to the studio’s director, Sam Jackson, the Knightsbridge, London company occasionally has clients that want a foot or head scan of their child. Often the 3D scans are then used to create bronze casts. Using 3D scanning can dramatically shorten the time and cost.

Sample & Hold is a little different. They do not use 3D scanners. Instead, the use 67 conventional 2D cameras placed in a circle around the subject. A button is pressed and the cameras capture the subject from 67 angles. Computer software then merges the images together to create a 3D model.

This process, referred to as photogrammetry, has been around for over 150 years. Due to technical advances, it started to fall out of use. Now with the rising popularity of 2D cameras, this technique is making a comeback.

There is a downside to this technique, explains Sam Jackson. Images are not always clear if the subject has skin that is unblemished. Along with being used to create 3D scans of images, photogrammetry is also being used to insert characters into video games or to digitize scenery.

Businesses and other industries are also using photogrammetry. It is a cost-effective way to create 3D images of large facilities or to survey a site. The images can be used in 3D laser printing to make an accurate map of almost any area.

According to a consulate for Uplift Drones, a company that trains drone operators in Britain, some local authorities are using drones to scan the tops of buildings instead of sending personnel up to take 3D images. Using drones is safer and cheaper. The building inspection can easily be done inside on a computer.

The United Kingdom is not the only country using photogrammetry and drones. The U.S. is conducting a trial of the technology, led by the Washington state transport department of aviation. The technology was used at the Sunnyside Municipal and Prosser Airports to detect objects that could be obstructions on the runways.

A spokesperson for the aviation department recently confirmed that there is a plan to continue to use drones. The department has just purchased a drone specifically for continuing the work, only this time without the added expense of hiring a contractor.

In most cases, a third-party contactor is still used to operate the drone or to provide the software necessary to merge the images into a 3D model. This particularly applies to 3D mapping when the software often needs to be constantly updated. Two of the major third-party suppliers are located in Switzerland and Poland.

According to FlyTech, a Polish firm, using a drone and photogrammetry is a cost-effective and accurate way to map the world – “one photograph at a time.”

Keep reading: more articles about 3D scanning

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