Reverse engineering on the cheap?

ProFORMA software tool turns ordinary web cam into 3D scanner.

Comments Off on Reverse engineering on the cheap? November 30, 2009
by DE staff

Researchers at Cambridge University’s Engineering department have developed a software tool that can create 3D models in real time using a stationary camera like a common webcam. Named ProFORMA (Probabilistic Feature-based On-line Rapid Model Acquisition), users can generate a working model in about a minute by rotating an object by hand in front of the camera.

According to Qi Pan, the Cambridge doctoral student who developed ProFORMA, the system works by first generating a point cloud from the video feed of a rotating an object. It then calculates the Delaunay tetrahedralisation of the point cloud to form the rough geometry of the model. This initial version is then "carved" using a recursive and probabilistic algorithm to obtain the final surface mesh complete with mapped textures.

Still in early development, ProFORMA is limited to scanning relatively simple objects with high contrast textures, so that the software can recognize changes as the object is rotated, but the developers say they will continue to enhance the software. According to the project’s website, the software is currently being ported and will be available as a Linux demo in a few months, followed by a Windows version.