Nov 20, 2015 | By Alec

3D printers and 3D scanning technology have long since been a match made in heaven, and fortunately 3D scanners are steadily becoming more accessible and affordable for regular users – making them very viable tools for a maker’s arsenal. Can you name a better way to quickly get your hands on 3D printable designs of existing objects? In that field, the arguably best handheld 3D scanner is the Structure Sensor by Occipital, and it’s about to get better. Occipital has just announced that they have acquired Lynx Laboratories, a 3D mapping specialist whose experts and their high quality 3D scanner algorithms will join Occipital in their HQ in Boulder, Colorado. It is expected that their expertise will be used to greatly improve the Structure Sensor’s mapping ability.

Occipital, as you might know, is a very ambitious and very successful 3D scanning developer. First reaching the big players in 2013 when they raised more than a million dollars on Kickstarter (resulting on the Structure Sensor), they recently announced that they have raised a further $13 million to further developing and refining their 3D scanning and capturing technologies. Part of those funds have doubtlessly gone towards acquiring Lynx Laboratories, a 3D depth mapping expert that launched its own mobile 3D scanner a while ago.

As Occipital explained, Lynx’s specialisms are the perfect addition to their own. ‘Today, we’re announcing that we have acquired Lynx Laboratories. Lynx has been at the forefront of developing mobile 3D scanning software since the launch of their Lynx A mobile 3D scanner on Kickstarter. More recently, Lynx shifted focus from building their own hardware towards building software that uses the Structure Sensor,’ they wrote. ‘In addition to industry and Android expertise, Lynx has contributed enhancements to the Structure Sensor's firmware and drivers that result in improved depth accuracy for all users of the Structure Sensor, regardless of platform or industry.’ The Lynx team will join the Occipital team in Colorado, bring all their technologies and intellectual property with them.

It is expected that Lynx’s scanning algorithms were the biggest target. According to Occipital’s CEO Jeff Powers, Lynx is capable of vastly reducing sensor mapping errors – by up to 90 percent. Initial tests already revealed that errors were reduced from five inches to just one fourth of an inch. ‘It’s a big deal for the idea of mapping your entire home,’ Powers said. ‘Usually we're limited to an object, or an artifact, or a person. But this tech really lets us blow that out to something like a room.’

The goal is to incorporate this technology into existing Structure Sensors, sometime in early 2016. More information about the specifics is expected around the company’s precence at CES. ‘From the first time somebody had a Structure Sensor to what we can do with it now is just — you wouldn't think it's the same device,’ Powers says. ‘When we launched the structure sensor and people first received units they couldn't even capture things in color.’ Color support, HD texturing, and more has already been added to the sensors over the years, and this Lynx integration should be seen in that same light. ‘With computer vision it's as much about the algorithms as it is about the inputs,’ Powers says.

The Structure Sensor, as you might know, is a quite popular device often seen at 3D printing expo’s, though the field of 3D scanners is continuously expanding with new competitors. According to Powers, this new addition to their software solutions could help Occipital again distance itself from competitors, while also aiming at new applications (such as architecture) and even towards smartphone integration. ‘I think building it into smartphones is obviously going to be huge, but also building it into wearable devices is really going to be interesting, like VR and AR headsets,’ Powers says. ‘But it's hard to say which will happen first.’



Posted in 3D Scanning



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