Oct 2, 2015 | By Alec

With the prices of 3D printers steadily decreasing, it looks like a similar trend is now affecting other making technologies as well. 3D scanning with an eye on 3D printable designs, for example, is steadily becoming more affordable and more available, and the latest release by Oregon-based Orbbec will only support that trend. Orbbec has just launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo (that is already doing well) for their remarkable Persee, a combination of a high-def 3D camera and an ARM computer, which is perfect for building 3D apps and making 3D printable scans. What’s more, it is expected to retail for less than $300.

For those of you who’ve never heard of Orbbec, they’re a Seattle-based company (with roots in Shenzhen, China) that specializes in manufacturing 3D cameras and sensors. They firmly believe that the future is in intelligent computing and that 3D cameras are an integral part of that future. Previously, they have already released the Orbbec Astra 3D camera to much critical acclaim, and their latest effort Persee is essentially a combination of that 720p high-definition camera with a powerful ARM computer.

While that sounds quite simple, the Persee really looks like a unique device. At it heart, it combines depth perceiving camera technology with a computer aimed at developing applications that can be run without the need for an external processing source. That gives you a lot of options for a device that can be held in the palm of your hand (though it can also be plugged into a TV, with interaction taking place completely through the camera). Think 3D digital art, 3D film creation, recognition and education apps, 3D printable scanning, as well as plenty of options for creative coders and developers.

As the company’s founder and CEO Howard Huang argued, the Persee is part of the future of computing. ‘We believe that the future of computing is 3D and all consumer devices will include 3D cameras in the near future,’ he said. ‘Achieving this vision requires superb 3D cameras that are affordably priced and universally available. It also requires a world-class hardware and development platform, which we deliver with Orbbec Persee.’ And the stats seem to back up that claim, as the Persee includes a quad-core 1.8GHz ARM CPU, 600MHz GPU with OpenCL support, Wi-Fi and high-speed Ethernet, an embedded 16GB eMMC Flash as well as 2GB DDR3 RAM. Perfect for very high resolution shots (and even an accuracy to within 0.5 centimeters at a distance of 2 meters), though the range is up to 8 meters.

What’s more, Orbbec is fully focused on the making community with this device, which is reflected in their desire to make the Astra camera a starting point for design. ‘The Astra SDK supports Windows, Linux, OS X, and Android, as well as the creative coding framework Processing. Support for openFrameworks, Unity 3D, and Cinder is coming soon,’ they say.

What’s more, the academic reactions are already good so far too. George Barbastathis, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Singapore Research Professor of Optics at MIT, called it groundbreaking. ‘Orbbec Persee is a long awaited, and much needed catalyst for the development of creative, intelligent computing experiences,’ he said. ‘Reaching this level of 3D sophistication, at an affordable price, is groundbreaking.’

In addition to this promising Persee, Orbbec has simultaneously launched the Pro version of the Astra camera in this Indiegogo campaign. Designed to be used with a PC, it makes up for a lack in computational power with a higher resolution than the regular Astra camera (640 x 480 resolution at 30 frames per second, recording color images in 720p at 30 frames per second). The other stats are similar to the Astra. One option for the Astra that Orbbec used as an example is full body scanning.

But the best news is still to come, and that is that the Persee and the Astra Pro are both remarkably cheap when ordered through Kickstarter. The Persee super early bird is priced at just $179, while the Astra Pro is just $99. All funds raised through Indiegogo will go straight towards developing production capacity. To learn more about these cool options, go to the company’s Indiegogo page here.



Posted in 3D Scanning





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