Dec 1, 2015 | By Alec

Over the past few years, Microsoft has been increasingly trying to get into the 3D printing market with a number of interesting software solutions that are especially suitable for beginning users. And they seem to have now done it again with the Kinect: While a number of DIY projects have already transformed the Xbox One’s Kinect into a machine that makes 3D printable renderings, Microsoft has now made it an official option with the release of the app “3D Scan”. Though everything but an interesting name, it is definitely an easy way to start 3D scanning with an eye on 3D printing for everyone already owning a Kinect for gaming purposes.

With this release, it seems as though Microsoft is finally getting the most out of perhaps their most underrated device, while simultaneously getting an extra foot in the door in the coveted 3D printing market. Originally launched in 2010, Kinect is a line of motion sense input devices for Xbox 360, Xbox One video game consoles, and for Windows PCs. Based around a webcam-style add-on peripheral and depth sensors, the device can track users movements and voice, and interpret specific gestures, allowing gamers to play hands-free, without the need for a game controller. Beyond gamers, however, the Kinect also has features that are particularly important to the maker community. Namely, it is capable of 3D motion capture and facial and object recognition. In short, it is the first step towards a low-cost, consumer-level 3D scanner.

Some people have already recognized this option and have incorporated the Kinect into a number of fun, but slightly complex DIY builds. Remember this handheld scanner by German maker Mario Lukas? Fortunately, with this new 3D Scan application most of the making difficulty has finally been taken out of it. What’s more, you don’t even need an Xbox One of 360 to use it, as it also functions on Windows 8.1 and Windows 10. It can already be downloaded for free in the Microsoft App Store.

What’s more, it’s also easy to use. In essence, the Kinect functions as a handheld tool that you simply use to scan objects. ‘For best results, either rotate around the object you are scanning and turn the handheld mode on, or use a turntable. If you use a turntable, put Kinect on a tripod and turn the handheld mode off,’ the Microsoft team explains. Simply choose the size of the surface you want to scan, and hold the sensor as if it were a photo camera, but then at an arm length’s away. A 3D selfie is quickly made.

To get good results, however, you will need a 64-bit (x64) processor, a dual-core 3.1 GHz (2 logical cores per physical) or faster processor, 4 GB in RAM, a Nvidia CUDA graphic card or a Kinect Fusion compatible GPU, and finally a 3.0 USB port suitable for the Kinect (Intel or Renesas chipset). For more information on if your setup is compatible, run the Kinect Configuration Verifier tool and also look at the Kinect for Windows SDK 2.0 System Requirements.

Scanning itself, however, should be fairly easy. Microsoft already points to three factors that influence your results, but if done properly you can get some very interesting 3D printable renderings. The better your GPU, the better your scans, so 20 frames per second (fps) or higher settings are advised. The room used to scan is also important, as avoiding all shadows also positively influences the results. ‘The colors are better with more diffused light,’ they say. Also be sure to maximize the distance between the object and the background to avoid other objects being inadvertently scanned as well.

However, this wouldn’t be Windows if they weren’t trying to get you hooked on the rest of their apps and equipment, so you’ll need to use their 3D Builder app to import the images. That app, as you probably know, has been their solution for accessible 3D printing, and is quite a straightforward, user-friendly 3D printing interface. The latest version now includes an image importation feature for the Kinect, and will enable you to work with the scan and make some adjustments. Finally, it’s as easy as just pressing print.



Posted in 3D Scanning



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ivan wrote at 4/10/2016 11:39:39 AM:

still no support for xbox 360?

3D wrote at 12/2/2015 4:03:24 PM:

Not for the first Kinect? That's pretty important info.. I just installed the app and I have the Kinect for Windows so it won't work?

MG wrote at 12/1/2015 7:02:43 PM:

A small but important aspect: the application needs a Kinect V2 (Xbox One) sensor. It does not work with a Kinect 360.

MarcC wrote at 12/1/2015 1:39:42 PM:

The app described is for the newer XBox One sensor not the one shown in the photo of the article which is the XBox 360 Kinect sensor.

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