This is something straight out of Sci-Fi, but it is for real. 3-D scanners have existed for a while, apparently, but now they are coming down in price. 3-D printers are still expensive, but something that is possibly coming to a place like Kinko’s soon.
The New York Times had an article about this technology. You put an object on the scanner, the object gets scanned with a laser, and then you have a 3-D scan of a 3-D object. If you have something too big for the scanner, they also have laser devices like a camera that can take care of those. Then, you can edit the 3-D object in a computer program. Scanners start at $2500 and go up to nearly $40,000 for the camera, just in case you want to start saving up (to buy me one of course).
They also have the 3-D “printers” that can re-create the objects, in full color, using a resin or a starch-based powder. Sweet.
I’m thinking that, other than being cool, this could also be a giant leap forward for Second Life. The $2500 scanner is for desktops. The way the computer world goes, that will come down to about $250 in 2 years, right? So, want to create a realistic avatar of yourself? Want to recreate your favorite chair, coffee mug, chia-pet, or what ever in Second Life? What ever you want to transfer into Second Life will be a realistic possibility in the future.
The educational possibilities for the 3-D printer are also endless, as soon as the cost comes down. Ancient artifacts could be scanned and “faxed” to classrooms everywhere. Distance art education could become a reality. Of course, there are also new legal issue to wrangle with. The Time article linked above deals with those issues and some other ideas.
I’m ready for my Holodeck now….