back to article Here we are now, entertain us: Caltech team designs micro, high-res 3D imager

Boffins working for Caltech have developed a tiny, high-resolution 3D imager that they hope could eventually be used in consumer devices such as smartphones. They claimed that it could "soon be possible" to reproduce "a replica accurate to within microns" of an original object snapped on a mobile device. Caltech said: Any …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "...reproduce "a replica accurate to within microns" of an original object snapped on a mobile device."

    So, map your environment for a VR experience, but base it off an existing picture? Take a picture of an elephant, make a elephant with a 3D printer? Hopefully I'm guessing correctly and eventually it eliminates the temporary picture. Of course I'd trade the micron accuracy for a larger resolution, if possible. Not much is mentioned in the methods of down sampling or scaling with it comes to 3D image devices like these, but I hope there's options. Otherwise, it will sort of be like going everywhere with a 50mm prime lens, which isn't great, especially for 3D imagining (I won't be cuddling a Lion at 5 feet "for best results").

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      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Making the 'perfect', (as you see it), dildo for your wife/girlfriend by making a 3D image of your

        They toss it out and get a longer, vibrating one.

      2. skeptical i

        Scale: 200%

        Gentle sigoths will just re-print the "gift" under the guise of wanting a different color whilst keeping the details of any required pre-print photoshoppery to themselves.

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  4. phil dude
    Thumb Up


    might be useful for assessing dermal growths, changes in muscle structure, and other morphology.

    How about for dental inspection? Instant home diagnosis before a dentist drills your tooth away.

    This world needs more refined tech, not less. Of course we also need the human capital to make productive use of it.

    But, add this capability to a tablet I could think of a great many uses...


    1. Myself-NZ

      Re: diagnostics....

      But how do you fit a tablet in your mouth for the dental inspection ?

      1. Captain DaFt

        Re: diagnostics....

        With a glass of water?

      2. Robert Helpmann?? Silver badge

        Re: diagnostics....

        It can go in consumer electronics. It can also go into specialist equipment. Besides, as this uses light to scan, it seems reasonable that it a mirror might be used in places that it would be inconvenient to fit the electronics for whatever reason. The described chip is only 1 mm3 so even if an array of them were put together, it could be small enough to fit inside a human mouth.

      3. phil dude

        Re: diagnostics....

        i think the scanning described does not need to be in contact.

        Nevertheless since the technology is minatuised for a tablet, it would seem possible to put on an electric toothbrush as a new attachment!!!

        Many diseases are too slow to perceive but micron accuracy might possibly measure cell growth.


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  5. DropBear Silver badge

    Sounds quite precise and potentially useful, but to be fair the detail in the coin image is rather miserable and nowhere near micron size...

  6. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge

    This is a neat archaeological tool

    One thing that people have done for many centuries is make marks on rocks, usually straight incised markings. Quite often, these aren't visible until a LIDAR system images them and enhances them. LIDAR has always been expensive; an inexpensive system would let you pull tricks such as imaging drystone walls looking for Roman incised stone fragments, say.

    Mooching about looking in drystone walls is actually a valuable archaeological technique; people really hate carrying stone about, so a drystone wall is always a good representative sample of what was lying about on the ground surface in the immediate vicinity. Drystone wallers are no respecters of culture; a lump of Roman altar is just a nicely-fitting rock to them and into the wall it goes; ditto a five thousand year old Neolithic quern. Being able to easily spot these would be useful.

  7. My-Handle

    An additional complication...

    One thing I feel that the article implies is that you can get a complete 3D scan of an object just with a quick snap of your mobile. This isn't strictly true. You'd get a decent 3D point cloud, but only on the side of the object that is facing you. You'd have to take shots from at least four different angles to have a hope of getting a point cloud that covers the entire models, and you'd still have a few shadows / blank areas (depending on the object's shape). To then merge several different point clouds into one would require either some really nifty software or an awful lot of manual work, especially while maintaining "micron" accuracy.

    I used to be a LiDAR data scientist, processing the elevation model data that the article mentioned.

    Still a really useful bit of kit, but not quite up to the "scan and print" tasks mentioned by other commenters :)

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