A few low-cost 3D scanners have come out recently – ReconstructMe, Matterport and 3Dfy. These start-ups have utilized the Kinect or a Kinect-like device to make an affordable solution for modelling actual spaces and products. I was ecstatic when Microsoft released the Kinect and then the development software. It’s such a powerful hardware/software combo. It made sense that cheap, 3D scanning was just around the corner. I’m happy to see many amazing third-party applications and innovations now using this platform. Here’s a breakdown of some of the latest scanning technology changing how we capture our world.

Now, if you’re interested in laser scanning, particularly the DIY side of laser scanning, you’ve heard of Makerscanner and DAVID. Like the second device we mention below, these use their own hardware and software. The others and many recent experiments with laser scanning are using the Kinect SDK which nearly provides the plug-and-play solution needed to turn you or your surroundings into a 3D model.


ReconstructMe is a free, non-commercial product, maintained by the good people of PROFACTOR GmbH. Definitely, the best free 3D scanning software I’ve seen. Most notable improvement – a pair of glasses strapped to the Kinect improves its ability to scan small objects. Hmmm.

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Full-colour Scanning? Yes please! The Matterport scanner and software is a really exciting product, but currently in development. It actually uses a device similar to the Kinect, but the scan speeds and color capture are unmatched.



3Dfy is crafted by Materix Labs of India, these fellas are also producing colour scanning and are in beta-testing. Feel free to download the beta and test-er out.

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Your average out-of-the-box 3D scanner + software can go for a few hundred to a few thousand dollars (just take a look at the ‘inexpensive’ $2,995 NextEngine 3D scanner.) From the looks of it, the ease and quality of what ReconstructMe, Matterport and 3Dfy can accomplish with a Kinect or Kinect-like device has put 3D capture firmly in the hands of DIYers. Who’s to say we won’t be able to create face-gear from our head scans. Or perhaps, create mash-ups of a loved one and an octopus (“I’d like to be under the sea In an octopus’ garden in the sha- *SLAP* ow!”)

Colbertopus image: Thingiverse