Occipital's Structure Sensor clamps onto your iPad for 3D scanning on-the-go

Brian Heater
B. Heater|09.17.13

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Occipital's Structure Sensor clamps onto your iPad for 3D scanning on-the-go

With the explosion of desktop 3D printers, there seems little doubt that the next big land grab is the world of 3D scanning. Microsoft's Kinect has taken us a few steps closer to mainstreaming the technology, and MakerBot's soon-to-launch Digitizer is no doubt likely to capture the imagination of much of that community. Kickstarter, naturally, is also littered with smaller companies looking for a piece of that action. Among them, Occipital's Structure Sensor certainly has potential.

The company's looking at a lofty $100,000 goal to bring its mobile scanner to market by year's end. The device clips on to a tablet via a bracket, letting you scan objects, create 3D maps of indoor spaces and the like. All said, it's a pretty nice looking bit of hardware. Of course, we can't really vouch for ease of use or effectiveness. If you're willing to take the risk, however, a $349 pledge entitles you to the hardware, an iPad bracket and a Lightning cable.

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Occipital, a computer vision startup, announced today the Kickstarter launch of the Structure Sensor. The Structure Sensor gives mobile devices a new sense – the ability to not just capture the world as two-dimensional images, but to actually understand it in three dimensions.

This enables a completely new set of mobile applications, including:
• 3D object scanning for 3D content creation with no knowledge of CAD required.
• 3D mapping of indoor spaces for instant measurements and virtual redecoration.
• Body scanning for fitness tracking and virtual clothes fitting.
• Virtual reality games using 3D environments imported from the real world.
• Augmented reality games where virtual objects interact precisely with the geometry of the physical world, including occlusions.

Unlike previous 3D sensors which were designed to connect to game consoles and computers, the Structure Sensor has been designed from the ground up to go mobile: compact dimensions, mobile-optimized range, no external power source required for operation, and a precision bracket that lets it quickly and securely attach to an Apple iPad with Lightning connector.

"Occipital is fundamentally a software company," said Jeff Powers, CEO and co-founder of Occipital, "We wanted to build incredible augmented reality mobile applications, but the hardware we needed didn't exist, so we built it."

Occipital has chosen Kickstarter as the launch platform for the Structure Sensor. The Structure Sensor will be available to Kickstarter backers for pledges between [TBD], depending on delivery dates and other options.

The 45-day Kickstarter campaign for the Structure Sensor has a funding goal of $100,000.

Kickstarter backers will receive their Structure Sensor with three demo apps: a 3D scanner that can scan, save and output 3D-printable objects; an interior mapping demo app that can capture an interactive 3D model of an interior space; and a virtual pet that can move around and behind real world objects just like a real pet would. Occipital will also be providing sample code from these demo apps to developers.

"We had developers in mind when we designed the Structure Sensor," said Vikas Reddy, Occipital co-founder. "The Structure Sensor will launch with the Structure SDK, which lets developers access a 3D sensor on iOS for the very first time. They'll be able to build their apps in Xcode, and launch them on the App Store."

The Structure Sensor is also designed to be used with other platforms such as Android, Windows, Linux and OS X. Occipital will provide open source drivers, CAD files for easy creation of custom mounting brackets for other devices, and a special "Hacker Cable" that lets the Structure Sensor plug into any device with a USB port.

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