New 3D Scanning Tech Makes Capturing Data from Half Mile Away Possible

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It’s rather fascinating. 3D scanning can be used in so many different ways, but I bet you didn’t know it could be used from far away. We’re talking half a mile away kind of far. A new project shows that this is definitely possible with a new HD scanner that can make 3D models using lasers. Oh, and it can do this from a half mile away. Did we mention that part yet?

Researchers at Heriot Watt University, which is located in Edinburgh, United Kingdom, have developed this new technology. It works by using an infrared laser to scan across an object. The device captures how long it takes for the laser’s photons to hit the object and bounce back to create a pixel map. This makes a three-dimensional model that can be used in any way you want.

What’s really impressive is this system can show the depth of an object down to the millimeter. Yes, even from that far distance. It can even be used in a time-lapsed way, which can record grass growing or to find objects in a sea of clutter. These are really novel uses for 3D scanning, which totally expands the technology into new territory.

As if this weren’t enough, the researchers are already figuring out how to expand the device’s range even further from its current 0.62 miles up to 6 miles. Yes, you read that correctly! Wouldn’t that be amazing?

At the moment, this scanner can’t detect human faces and only represents them as dark and without any features. This is caused by the fact that human skin can’t make the photons bounce back to the laser. Anyone feeling uncomfortable about this technology being potentially invasive can breathe a sigh of relief at this point in time.

Now, you’re probably wondering what this technology could be used for? At the moment, it’s being used to capture three-dimensional details from a distance but it has the potential to be included in any device that needs to have an understanding of its surroundings in detail. We’re talking robotic cars, here.

So, the next time you question whether or not 3D scanning has real-world, real-life applications, think of this latest innovation. It’s in its early stages at this point but the sky’s the limit in terms of potential. We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on this development.

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