3D models in minutes

Canon has introduced new software that, in a matter of minutes, automatically creates 3D graphic models from a sequence of still images captured using an ordinary digital camera.

Developed at Canon Research Centre Europe (CRE), Canon’s UK-based research and development centre, the Canon 3D Software Object Modeller (3D SOM) enables users to create 3D graphic models quickly and inexpensively and requires no special hardware other than an ordinary digital camera.

Until now, the creation of 3D graphic models with modelling software was a completely manual process requiring not only specialised expertise, but also an enormous investment of both time and expense. Additionally, while several laser scanner systems that make possible the automatic creation of 3D graphic models are available, the technology comes at a high price.

With CRE’s 3D Software Object Modeller, the object to be modelled is placed on a calibration mat that can easily be printed out on a commercially available printer. The object is then photographed from approximately 15 angles around its circumference using a standard digital camera. Upon inputting the images, the software calibrates the distance between the camera and the object based on the markings printed on the calibration mat to create a full-colour, photo-quality 3D graphic model in minutes.

As 3D SOM uses the texture from the actual image data captured by the digital camera for the 3D graphic model, it can accurately recreate the surface qualities of the object being modelled. Also, SOM-generated models can be displayed in a VRML (Virtual Reality Modelling Language) viewer for rotating and zooming, or imported into commercially available 3D editing applications for further manipulation, such as adding animation.

Canon intends to actively develop 3D SOM for applications in a wide variety of fields, including e-commerce, mobile commerce and electronic catalogues.

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