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3D at the Push of a Button


© Noomeo

This hair dryer-like device is in fact a super lightweight 3D digitization tool.

Photocopiers and scanners are so last century–time to welcome the 3D gun.Two bright young French researchers have invented the “hair dryer,” as they like to call it, a device that can digitize 1 any object into 3D, from a pen to a jumbo airplane.“Portable 3D digitizers already exist, but they either require two cameras, or use a laser beam, or both,” explains Vincent Lemonde, joint creator of the device with Ludovic Brèthes. “The major advantage of this 3D gun lies in its software, which can create a 3D reproduction of an object from a single 2D photograph.” The software analyzes each point on the photo and ascribes to it a geometric measurement and color information data. It then interlinks the points and reconstitutes a 3D image of the object directly onto the gun’s touch screen. “This means the device uses just one camera, reducing both size and cost compared to other competing systems on the market,” adds Lemonde. In 2006, it earned them, among other accolades, the Midi-Pyrénées prize for innovation. This award recognized the achievements of Noomeo, the start-up company created within the Midi-Pyrénées Business Incubation Framework, and also the achievements of the lab where it all started, the LAAS 2 in Toulouse.
It was there–once their PhDs were completed–that Vincent Lemonde and Ludovic Brèthes gathered the necessary knowledge and momentum to revolutionize the world of digitization. “Michel Devy, researcher at LAAS, and Jean-José Orteu, professor at the Albi School of Mines, told us about the various problems encountered by small and medium sized firms in the field of digitization,” explains Lemonde. “This meant that before we even set out on this adventure, we knew what requirements had to be met and we knew the potential opportunities.” The 3D gun is very easy to use: extend your arm towards the object and press the button. This is a major advantage for digitizing objects or parts that are difficult to access. Its competing product on the market–though also portable–weighs ten kilograms. “We wanted to make 3D digitization more widely available by overcoming its current limitations,” adds Lemonde. “For now, only an imaging service is commercially available. We are sent the parts to be digitized or we do it directly on the spot. This year will be devoted to validating the demo models rented out to clients. The mass production launch is planned for 2009.” This will give them enough time to raise the necessary funds to start up production. Given the high level of interest the 3D gun has raised among professionals, the young entrepreneurs have equally high hopes of attracting investors.

Camille Liewig

Notes :

1. Transforming physical data into computer-processable digital data.
2. Laboratoire d'analyse et d'architecture des systèmes (CNRS).

Contacts :

> Vincent Lemonde
Noomeo, Toulouse.


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