Microsoft has decided to stop producing its Kinect Depth Sensor, according to an exclusive report on FastCo Design. With that decision the company is Hitting Refresh on yet another product that didn’t receive mass traction. The Kinect, especially the original 360 model, is not just a device that is used for Xbox owners to play motion-activated (dance) games but also a very popular device for people to get into 3D scanning at an affordable price point.

Kinect was the beginning point of many interesting software solutions for 3D scanning, too, like the Skanect application (Review) that was later acquired by Occipital, manufacturer of the still-available Structure Sensor (Review).

While I never tested the original Kinect 360, I did write a Mini-Review of the Kinect V2 for Xbox One / Windows without much enthusiasm about the results I got. So I think it’s a good decision and maybe it helps Microsoft to speed up the development of that very promising mobile 3D Capture app.

Now that it’s no longer in production and stock will probably run out after a few months, what are the alternatives for 3D scanning with a budget-friendly depth sensor?

Here are a few to consider:

Intel RealSense SR300 ($161.49 on Amazon)

The Creative BlasterX Senz3D is essentially the commercial version of the Intel RealSense SR300 Depth Sensor that’s also inside the 3D Systems Sense 2 (Review) — and it’s a lot cheaper. A great sensor for close range 3D scanning that has a full HD sensor for good texture capture if you have the right light setup.

Keep in mind though that the cheaper Creative device has been reported not to work with 3D Systems great Sense For RealSense software (mine does, but several readers reported serial-number rejections of the Creative device). It does work with the more professional RecFusion Software ($99) that I will review soon.

Structure Sensor ($379 on Amazon)

The Structure Sensor (Review) can be attached to a compatible iPad for scanning color and geometry with mobile apps like the excellent itSeez3D (Review) or be used to stream to a PC or Mac running the aforementioned Skanect (Review). You can also buy a USB hacker cable to connect it directly to a computer but then it only scans geometry without color.

The Structure Sensor is OpenNI 2 compatible.

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Orbbec Astra ($165.99 on Amazon)

The Orbbec Astra might be lesser know than the devices above but it might be the closest thing to Kinect when it comes to versatility. Firstly, it comes in 3 flavors: The Astra is for long-range (0.6 – 8.0m / optimal 0.6 – 5.0m) scanning (much like Kinect) with VGA color resolution and the Astra Pro has the same range but with 720p HD color support. The Astra S is the short-range (0.4 – 2m) version comparable to the RealSense SR300, but only with VGA color (Kinect 360 also had VGA color but the Kinect V2 had HD color).

All Orbbec Sensors are OpenNI 2 compatible and there are SDKs for Linux and Android available.

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