Mar 11, 2016 | By Alec

3D scanning and 3D printing must be very popular at the US Patent Office right now. Of course they process thousands of patent applications every week and it can take a year before your application is accepted, but 3D scanning with an eye on 3D printing does seem to feature frequently. In late February, a Disney patent for high resolution 3D printing through 3D scanning was approved, and now Hasbro has filed a patent application for their latest toy: a 3D scanning ‘booth’ for toys, which enables kids to turn their toys into 3D printable models and game avatars using their iPhone as a scanner.

This interesting concept has been invented by Nicholas Reid, William Gajda and Benjamin Parry Taylor for Hasbro. Filed back in September 2015, the patent application is called ‘Toy System with Manually Operated Scanner’. While patents can sometimes be difficult to understand, this one is almost exactly what it says on the tin. Essentially, it’s a toy assembly for a rotational platform, configured to hold an object in space, and a dock that holds a portable imaging device (iPhone). “The dock being positioned relative to the platform such that the space extending from the platform overlaps with the field of view of the imaging device when the imaging device is received and held in the dock; a physical input configured to move in response to an applied manual force; and a movable connection between the physical input and the platform, the movable connection configured to move the platform relative to the imaging device in response to receiving a manual force,” they write in the application.

In a nutshell, that means it’s a mini 3D scanning booth that rotates in view of an iPhone with 3D imaging capacity. While they say ‘portable electronic device’, all images feature an iPhone as the electronic device and the patent lists “an iPhone available from Apple Inc. of Cupertino, Calif.” as an example for one of the devices used. That is actually quite interesting, as it confirms some persistent rumors about the iPhone 7, which is coming in the fall of 2016. The phone is expected to carry a dual camera system, which would be necessary for creating these 3D characters in a single pass. To some extent, it therefore seems as though Hasbro is preparing for that new release, while a year ago Apple also updated their iPhone trademark to cover toys under under International Class 28. However, two scans with another iPhone (or smartphone) should be enough to make a 3D scan with an eye on 3D printing too. One thing seems certain: our smartphones are becoming 3D scanners too.

Aside from that, it certainly seems like a fun and child friendly scanning device. It is manually operated with a hand crank (number 108), which turns a turntable (106). The objects (102) can be a toy, a trophy or any other item of value – even a clay figurine made in school. According to the patent application, everything can be accurately 3D scanned without an extensive understanding of 3D scanning technology. The 3D scan materializes on the iPhone’s display, presumably in a custom made app.

Those scans can then be easily used in a variety of accessible software. Kids can even turn the scans into avatars for games (and add a background, accessories or other look-completing additions), or generate 3D printable models in one of the many entry-level CAD software options. The full patent application can be found here. Though it is uncertain when this latest Hasbro toy will hit the shelves, one thing is certain: entry barriers for 3D scanning and 3D printing are steadily being lowered. How long will it take before 3D printers become toys, rather than engineering tools?



Posted in 3D Scanning



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