On Oct. 30, during Innovation Day 2013 at Microsoft Research Asia, a demo called 3-D Scanning with Mobile Devices set up an intriguing premise: making 3D printing more accessible to the masses.

“Nowadays, 3D printing is very popular,” says Jiawei Gu, with Richard Cai and Zhiwei Li one of three Microsoft Research scientists demonstrating the capabilities of the project. “When people want to fabricate something, determining what kind of thing is a key problem. Our technology can enable people to use the mobile phone in their pocket to scan anything and make it real.”

As Inside Microsoft Research reports, making that reality starts with performing a quick scan using a mobile phone.

“With a phone or tablet, as long as you have an RGB camera, you can create a 3D image,” Cai says. “The computational cost is heavy, so we do the reconstruction in the cloud, and then, after the computation is done, we transfer the data back to the user’s device, in around half a minute—just a simple scan, and you’ve got 3D content.”

To see more possibilities for 3D printing and scanning, check out Inside Microsoft Research.

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Athima Chansanchai
Microsoft News Center Staff