Geo Week News

April 27, 2011

Scanning with a sense of wonder

Thanks very much to Twitter and BLDG|BLOG for pointing me in the direction of ScanLAB, which is “an ongoing series of experimental projects investigating the use of 3D laser scanning in architecture,” started up by Matthew Shaw and William Trossell, in the UK. 

Part of what they do, like much of 3D imaging, has to be seen to be appreciated, but what’s drawn me to them is the sense of wonder and play they bring to laser scanning. Because laser scanners are so expensive, and because they’ve initially been applied for such practical purposes, it’s rare that you see someone just kind of screwing around with them. And, not to cast aspersions, since I’m a big fan of screwing around, that seems to be what these guys are doing (I’ve got an interview request in, too, and hope to have more of their thoughts soon). 

For instance, I love that they scanned the crowd from the recent conference they attended. Check out this fly-through:

I know it’s nothing special, in many ways. Anyone can set up a scanner in front of a crowd and grab a 3D snapshot. But who actually does it? Why didn’t we think to do this at SPAR? Why didn’t I have myself scanned at SPAR? 

It’s definitely true that people are using laser scanning for art purposes, but what these guys are doing seems different than that. They’re exploring the technology’s potential in more of a philosophical way, thinking about the implications for their profession, thinking about the why. It’s playful and fun and creative in a way that can only lead to good things. 

Also of note is that they’re using a Focus3D to make that scan above: It becomes a lot easier to screw around when the technology is cheaper and more accessible. Is a $40k scanner “cheap” and “accessible”? I wouldn’t go quite that far, but it’s heading in that direction. 

Regardless, look for more from ScanLAB and please pass along anyone else who’s experimenting like this.

Edit: Different guys, different country, different application, but this is the same basic idea. I mean, holy wow (and great taste in music, too):

Be Your Own Souvenir! from blablabLAB on Vimeo.

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