Much like 3D Printing, 3D Scanning used to be something that only large engineering firms had access too. Old scanners were costly and unreliable. These days, using an XBox Kinect and some free computer software, you too can have a 3D scanning at your house. And even better, since the XBox One came out, you can pick up the original kinect for less than 30 bucks at a pawn shop. Let me show you how to do it!
You only need a couple things in order to create your own 3D scanner at home.
- XBox 360 Kinect. You can pick one of these up at a pawn shop for around 30 bucks now days. Be sure to grab the original kinect, the one for the 360. The one that shipped with the Xbox One, the Kinect v2 will not work.
- Xbox 360 Kinect USB Adapter. The original kinect uses more power than a usb jack can provide. This adapter splits the orange plug on the kinect into a DC power jack and a usb jack. You can find these online for less than 10 dollars.
- Skanect – This software is designed for both the PC and Mac, and will be the brains of the operation.
How to set up Skanect
Installing Skanect is easy, just follow the instruction on the Skanect download page. If you are using Windows, you’ll also need to download the Kinect SDK, also linked at the bottom of the download page. Once those are downloaded and installed…. thats it!
Inside Skanect, you can see settings for body, object, half room and full room. These settings give different bounding box sizes to allow you to scan a variety of settings. For now, we will focus on body scans. Click body, and start. Here you can see the output of the kinect, with its color and depth information on the right. In the middle is a preview of the scan. To start your first scan, have your subject stand in the middle of a room with enough room for you to walk around them. Have them take off any glasses, as they tend to distort the scan.
The subject needs to remain perfectly still. If they move even the slightest, the scan will be ruined. Once the subject has choosen a position they can keep perfectly still in, begin the scan. Start moving the kinect around the person. Make note of the FPS (frames per second) shown at the bottom. Move only as fast as your computer is capable of. The higher your frame rate, the faster you can move. If you get a “Tracking lost, please move to the last frame” error, then you are moving too fast.
Once you have captured every part of the subject (don’t forget the top of the head and under the chin!) you can stop the scan. It’ll render the mesh. Congrats, you have completed your first 3D scan using an Xbox kinect! But we are not done yet, move over to the Process tab at the top. Here is where you can modify the mesh and add the color to the model. Click on ‘Watertight’, and apply a low smoothing to the model. This will start the post-processing, closing all the holes and making the mesh water tight, removing any bad scan data, and adding the color to the model.
Processing might take a few minutes, but the finished product is a full color 3D scan! Be sure to see what else Skanect has to offer. There are many settings and options that is outside the scope of this article, but I will cover them in a future post!