Update 7 June 2017
itSeez3D just released version 1.0 of their Avatar Web API and a beta plugin for Unity.
Click here for more info.
3D capture has a lot of potential for consumers. But to make the technology approachable, it needs to become affordable, fast and mobile. Consumer-focused 3D scanning hardware for smartphones will enter the market soon, but these active 3D capture technologies will still require an investment — and carrying around an add-on.
In my opinion, passive 3D capture — technologies that the use software to generate 3D data from regular 2D photographs — is key to bringing 3D capture to consumers. There are already a few Free Photogrammetry Apps and Microsoft recently announced a 3D capture app, but they all use the camera on the back of the smartphone, making it hard to capture selfies. And that’s exactly what people do a lot these days.
Yesterday, itSeez3D, the makers of the Structure Scanner iPad app with the same name, announced a new SDK for smartphones that let users capture their face with just their smartphone. It works with the front-facing camera and you don’t have to move your phone or your head.
It takes a single photo. This makes me very curious to how itSeez3D will distill 3D data and how accurate the geometry will be.
What makes this announcement interesting is that it’s not going to be just a 3D scanning app, but a Software Development Kit (SDK) that can be used by third parties to implement 3D face capture in their app. This way, users can use their own face on digital characters in interactive content like games.
Digital Avatars will introduce young consumers to 3D Capture in the near future
Both the capturing technology and the avatar approach aren’t entirely new. A similar capturing method has been showcased in a demo video from Seene, which has been acquired by the developer of Snapchat, which is rumoured to be developing 3D avatar solution as well.
And the creation of scan-based avatars has been in development by Uraniom for some time. CES 2016 reports of about this solution mentioned that the itSeez3D app for Intel RealSense — an active 3D capture sensor — was used for for the capturing part.
RealSense-based avatar scanning is actually a built-in feature in the video game NBA 2k16, but I strongly doubt that many games have a RealSense-equipped computer. They all have a smartphone, so making 3D avatars with passive 3D capture is clearly the way to go.
Here’s the full demo video from itSeez3D: