Turning [M. C. Escher] prints into real objects

September is coming, and soon college freshmen the world over will be decorating their dorm room walls with Dark Side of the Moon posters and [M.C. Escher] prints. Anyone can go out and simply buy a prism, but what if you wanted a real-life version of objects and buildings from [Escher]’s universe? Professor [Gershon Elber] at the Technion at the Israel Institute of Technology decided to turn [Escher]’s prints into reality.

First beginning with simple shapes such as a Penrose Triangle and a Necker Cube, [Elber] decided to branch out into much more impossible shapes such as [Escher]’s Waterfall, Belvedere, and Relativity. These buildings are extremely hard to visualize in any traditional computer design program, so [Elber] wrote a plugin for his IRIT computer modeling program to design the buildings before committing them to a 3D printer.

In the video after the break, you can see a few rotating views of the resulting [Escher] buildings. Of course they only work from exactly one point of view – and even then, only with one eye closed – but it’s amazing to see these famous architectural studies brought into the real world.

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Getting a textured 3D scan from just a webcam

Here’s an oldie but a goodie that passed us up the first time it went around the Internet. [Qi Pan], (former) PhD student at Cambridge, made a 3D modeling program using only a simple webcam. Not only does this make very fast work of building 3D models, the real texture is also rendered on the virtual object.

The project is called ProFORMA, and to get some idea of exactly how fast it is, the model of a church seen above was captured and rendered in a little over a minute. To get the incredible speed of ProFORMA, [Qi] had his webcam take a series of keyframes. When the model is rotated about 10°, another keyframe is taken and the corners are triangulated with some very fancy math.

Even though [Qi]’s project is from 2009, it seems like it would be better than the ReconstructMe, the Kinect-able 3D scanning we saw a while ago. There’s a great video of [Qi] modeling a papercraft church after the break, but check out the actual paper for a better idea of how ProFORMA works.

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3D Render Live with Kinect and Bubble Boy

[Mike Newell] dropped us a line about his latest project, Bubble boy! Which uses the Kinect point cloud functionality to render polygonal meshes in real time.  In the video [Mike] goes through the entire process from installing the libraries to grabbing code off of his site. Currently the rendering looks like a clump of dough (nightmarishly clawing at us with its nubby arms).

[Mike] is looking for suggestions on more efficient mesh and point cloud code, as he is unable to run any higher resolution than what is in the video. You can hear his computer fan spool up after just a few moments rendering! Anyone good with point clouds?

Also, check out his video after the jump.

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3D modeling out of thin air


It seems that with each passing day, the Kinect hacks that we see become exponentially more impressive. Take for instance this little number that was sent to us today.

[sonsofsol] has combined several open source software packages and a little electronics know-how to create one of the more useful Kinect hacks we have seen lately. His project enables him to manipulate 3D models in GEM simply by moving his hands about in front of his Kinect sensor. Using OpenNI and Ubuntu, all of his actions are tracked by the computer and translated into actions within the GEM 3D engine.

To make things easier on himself, he also constructed a pair of electronic gloves that interface with the system. Using an Arduino, the gloves send different complex commands to the 3D modeling software, just by touching different pairs of fingers together.

You really need to take a look at the video embedded below to get a feel for how complex [sonsofsol’s] “simple” mesh modeler really is.

Looking for more Kinect fun? Check out these previously featured stories.

[Thanks, Jared]

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SketchUp adds dynamic components

Google just announced the release of SketchUp 7. SketchUp is a 3D modeling program with a fairly robust free version. They’ve added quite a few features and the one that caught our eye in particular was dynamic components. Dynamic components have behavior specific to the object. The example in the video above shows a staircase changing the number of steps as its height is increased instead of distorting the overall staircase shape. The new version also allows for interaction, so model properties change based on user actions.

Google has always encouraged sharing of objects created in SketchUp. Thingiverse launched today with a similar emphasis. The site is built to encourage the exchange of plans for physical objects. It supports many different file types from plain images, AutoCAD dxfs to Eagle schematics. Many of the designs already posted are made to be cut out by a laser cutter or built by a 3D printer.

[via Make]


I’ve received a few tips on this, and somehow it keeps slipping by. The fab@home project immediately reminds me of reprap. This is a completely open source hardware project for rapid prototyping/3d modeling. In the past, manufacturing something like a turkey baster bulb required injection molding. The project wiki has full details on building your own, including manufacturing houses to get all the acrylic laser cut. It looks like you could get your hands on one of these pretty easily if you don’t mind making a dent in your wallet. Thanks to [nickjohnson] and [peter B]. [peter B] also noted that the cornell boys have an even nicer one that they use to make zinc-air batteries and artificial muscles.

If you happen to be in Berlin on December 27th, you might want to sign up for Fabienne’s wifi detector hacking workshop at 23c3.