Accessibility and affordability make ReCap Best of Show at SPAR International 2014
COLORADO SPRINGS, CO (SPAR International 2014) - Autodesk's ReCap, short for reality capture, is a collection of application and service intended to make 3D models of existing objects, buildings, even landscapes, which can then be used for information, modification or design. ReCap will use digital photos or point clouds and create what is essentially a 3D photograph.
3D CAD model of car heads down 3D scanned assembly line. (Picture courtesy of Volvo)
- An architect can get a 3D model of the surroundings in which to place a new design
- A city could see how a bridge would look in its eventual surroundings (see bridge above)
- A factory would know if a new car model would clear existing assembly line equipment (see Volvo example above)
- An aftermarket car car part could be shown on an existing vehicle
- Accident re-creation and forensics
- Women could finally get jeans that fit (see below)
Half the population of the US (the female half) is not happy with their jeans or how they look in them. Imagine biometric data from a 3D scan (that you did yourself and encrypted, of course) that could be sent to a clothing manufacturer for a custom fit.
A single body scan could result in custom made shoes, suits, more...
Key Differentiating Technology
The ability to snap photos from several points of view and have software create a 3D model is a key technology in ReCap. While we take the precise recording to a 2D space for granted in a photo, think of superimposing another photo over the first one from another view point, then another, and so on. A photo shoot to capture an object in 3D could have 30, 40 or more photos. The more the better, actually, in terms of accuracy. The thought of having to sort out millions of pixels in 3 dimensions is enough to give me a headache. Luckily it's all handled by the software, all "under the hood."
Autodesk acquired this technology (known as photogrammetry) in the form of REALVIZ, a small company it found in the south of France which it bought it for an undisclosed sum. REALVIZ founder Dominique Pouliquen moved to the SF Bay Area and now integrates the technology into Autodesk products. REALVIZ surfaced first in 123D Catch which is now ReCap.
It is a popular exhibit in the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco, where over 20 cameras will turn your likeness into a small head and shoulders bust. For $35. Unfortunately, the tops of the head is always missing, but Dominique tells me it can be fixed easily by an additional 2 overhead cameras.
Is Any of This New or Unique?
Photogrammetry, the math of positioning points in space often from 2D recordings developed not long after the recordings themselves. There's many products that can create 3D models from photographs. Several small companies but also one giant. Google may well be the biggest creator and user of photogrammetry with its ambitious plan to digitize the worlds roadways. Laser scanning, or LIDAR, long a favored tool to capture site data for civil engineers to create digital terrain maps (DTMs) for making and widening roadways, adding bridges, etc., came to light (pun intended) in the '60s. Also, the creation of 3D models from point clouds has been going on for decades.
Airplanes equipped with LIDAR can map entire country sides. Factory interiors, BIM models, airplanes, etc., can be modeled with application of a laser scanning system such as those from Faro, Surphaser, and many others who were displaying their wares at SPAR. The equipment is not cheap to acquire. Expect to spend $100K to get a decent laser scanning setup. A van equipped with 360 scan equipment is so expensive and requires so much training and that most state DoTs cannot afford them and don't want to bother with them.
So what is an individual or small firm to do? The typical architect in a small firm does not have that kind of budget, much less LIDAR equipped flight services in his address book.
But we do all have digital cameras -- at least one. They're built into our phones. Send the photos to a service and let it stitch the photos together. Autodesk provides this service for free. Want to scan the neighborhood and entire neighborhood -- from above? You could rig up a point-and-shoot camera to a drone and let it buzz around for 15 minutes taking shots every second, upload it to Autodesk's Recap 360, and receive a 3D model. Autodesk will do its part for FREE! I don't know how long this generosity can continue but enjoy it while you can. You will have to buy your own drone and camera.
Autodesk demonstrated this capability with off-the-shelf $7501 UAVs (they don't like to say drones) to scan the Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs. (See Is That a Drone? Run for Cover)
The accessibility and affordability makes Autodesk ReCap a welcome entry into the architecture, design and engineering world.
ReCap is free. You can download it here http://www.autodesk.com/products/recap/get-started. It is included with every 3D Autodesk design suite though it is mentioned with the Building Design Suite on Autodesk's site at the time of this writing.
ReCap Pro, which adds targetless registration of scans in the field, goes for $450/month or $3600 a year.
1. 3DR IRIS, by 3D Robotics, $750. See https://store.3drobotics.com/products/IRIS.
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