Geo Week News

January 19, 2012

LL Bean celebrates 100 years with laser scanning


I’m guessing it’s a bigger deal up here in Maine than it is where you are, but perhaps you’ve seen the news: LL Bean is celebrating its 100-year anniversary by, among other initiatives, unleashing upon the world the Bootmobile. Yep, a pickup truck modified to look like like the iconic Maine hunting boot that launched the company way back when (interesting side note: my father’s company once molded the rubber bottoms of these boots for a few years). 

It looks like this:


How’d they do that? Laser scanning, obviously. They’ve got a great making-of video right here (which I’d embed, but they don’t provide the code), which features the guys from Echo Artz, who’ve made their bones in making rides for theme parks, talking about how they laser scanned the boot, then used the point cloud and resultant model to see just where it would fit over the truck, where the touch points would be and where the foam would need to be modeled and cut. Really, it’s remarkable how well the boot shape fits over the truck, and it’s remarkable how perfectly laser scanning fits this application. 


Easy as 1-2-3. Scan, model, real-life.

Sure, there’s still artistry involved. They still had to be creative enough to take two-inch tugboat tow rope and paint it so that it resembled the classic two-tone lace. They still had to take the model and make it real through any number of sculpting hours. But just think of the headstart scanning must have given them. We’ve talked often about laser scanning large objects, part of historical sites, say, and making miniatures out of them. How about taking small items and making them 18-feet tall? What other applications immediately leap to mind – pieces for theatrical sets, marketing splashes that can be created quickly, who knows?

Further, this isn’t exactly a company known for leading-edge technology. This is classic, old-time, outdoor clothing. If they’re going this direction, anyone might. The streets might quickly be filled with vehicles in any manner of shape, like a Richard Scarey book come to life. 

I’m looking forward to it.

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