Laser scanning vs photo scanning

Creating 3D models of ancient objects used to be challenging. If you wanted to reconstruct an object in 3D your options involved laser scanning. Laser scanning takes many forms. LiDAR (light detection and ranging) uses pulses to measure how long it takes a laser to hit an object and come back. There is also laser triangulation. This uses a laser line, or single laser point, to scan across an entire object. Both pieces of equipment can produce fantastic 3D models, with amazing results. The main downside: price. Equipment needed for this complex computing comes at a substantial cost.

But, there is an alternative. It is called photo scanning (or photogrammetry). Instead of using lasers, photo scanning involves stitching together multiple photographs to create a 3D image. The process is very simple:

Step 1: Select an object.
Step 2: Take as many photos of the object as you can. You can never have too many…
Step 3: Upload photos to a piece of photogrammetry software. If you want to spend a little money, Agisoft PhotoScan is an excellent product.
Step 4: Let the software guide you through the creation process.
Step 5: Marvel at your creation!

Once you have your 3D model you can share it with others.

You can even take it a step further and print your 3D object. I imagine a day where it is common for museum visitors to scan and print out their favourite object, as a souvenir of their trip. You will never be left disappointed when the gift shop is out of stock.

Photo scanning has made 3D modelling an affordable endeavour. The possibilities are endless.

Simon Young