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Surprising Science

Cell Phone Makes 3-D Models

A new cell phone app developed by Microsoft researchers uses overlapping snapshots to build a photo-realistic 3-D model that can be spun around and viewed from any angle.

Eric Stollnitz, one of the Microsoft researchers who worked on the imaging project said: “‘We want everybody with a cell phone or regular digital camera to be able to capture 3-D objects.’ To capture a car in 3-D, for example, a person needs to take a handful of photos from different viewpoints around it. The photos can be instantly sent to a cloud server for processing. The app then downloads a photo-realistic model of the object that can be smoothly navigated by sliding a finger over the screen. A detailed 360 degree view of a car-sized object needs around 40 photos, a smaller object like a birthday cake would need 25 or fewer.”


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