Nov 1, 2016 | By Tess

3D scanning startup Wolfprint 3D is hoping to bring 3D scanning and customized virtual reality avatars to the masses with its innovative new 3D scanning booths. The company's goal is to have the new egg-shaped scanning devices installed in malls all over the world and used like photo booths.

Wolfprint 3D’s new scanning booth was recently set up in a mall in Estonia, where visitors lined up to have 3D scans taken of themselves. Unlike many 3D scanning services, which can cost up to $400 per scan, the new booth is seeking to bring the cost of the technology down...way down. As Wolfprint 3D CEO Timmu Tõke explains, “Previously, if you wanted to get a high-quality scan of yourself, you’d have to go to a special 3D scanning studio…We started out with a studio like that, but we knew there had to be a better way to do it. What we’ve done now is to build a portable 3D scanner. We can do those same $400 scans, but at almost zero cost.”

The idea with the 3D scanning booth is to have it widely available to people, whether set up in malls, museums, or other public places. By making the technology so accessible, Wolfprint 3D is hoping to partake in the growing field of VR, by offering people an easy and affordable way to create their own customized and realistic-looking 3D avatars. So far, the startup has built four 3D scanning pods.

With VR games and apps really taking off, Wolfprint 3D could be onto something big. In fact, with even Mark Zuckerberg expecting up to 40% of VR time to be spent on social apps and environments, the 3D scanning device seems almost necessary. As the startup asks in a promotional video: who would want to socially interact with an unrealistic generic avatar when you can actually talk to your friends while seeing realistic likenesses of them?

Beyond social interactions in VR, the realistic avatars could also have wider applications in the gaming and retail markets. Wolfprint 3D is also reportedly in talks with movie studios to produce some promotional work. “That could be something like turning yourself into a particular character, which can then be printed as a figurine,” explains Tõke.

“We also think gaming is a big use-case, since you’ll be able to put yourself into a game and play with your friends,” Tõke adds. "Finally, we’re very excited about connecting people through virtual reality to create more authentic social interactions. You’ll be able to speak with friends, family, or colleagues in the virtual space — but as yourself. That’s the ultimate goal.”

The startup, which is currently undergoing a seed funding round, is also hoping to eventually establish a broad connected database of all the 3D scans taken by their booths. That is, through an API, Wolfprint 3D could compile every human scan taken by its machines so that users could easily bring themselves into a wide variety of gaming platforms and applications. Imagine being able to insert your virtual self into a Fifa video game, for instance, or have a VR face-to-face meeting with international colleagues.

While the current quality of the 3D scans is very good, Wolfprint 3D is also hoping to continually advance its technology, getting more precisely detailed and higher resolution images. According to Tõke, these improvements could soon even include facial movements, animations, and biometrics.

The cost for each 3D scanning pod is only about $8,000, which, compared to an expected annual revenue of over $50,000, is very affordable. There is no word on how much individual scans (which come with mini custom 3D printed busts) would cost, but the startup expects the machine to be able to take 350-400 scans a day!

While it may still be a while before Wolfprint 3D’s scanning booths are in malls all over the world, I will still be keeping a careful eye out to see whether a 3D scanning pod pops up where I shop. If you want to read more about Wolfprint 3D's work, check out their full color ultrasound 3D scanning system.



Posted in 3D Scanning



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