Qi Pan of Cambridge University’s Engineering Department has developed software which allows the creation of a 3D model of an object merely by slowly rotating it before a webcam, which he calls
ProFORMA (Probabilistic Feature-based On-line Rapid Model Acquisition):
“Off-line model reconstruction relies on an image collection phase and a slow reconstruction phase, requiring a long time to verify a model obtained from an image sequence is acceptable. We propose a new model acquisition system, called ProFORMA, which generates a 3D model on-line as the input sequence is being collected. As the user rotates the object in front of a stationary camera, a partial model is reconstructed and displayed to the user to assist view planning. The model is also used by the system to robustly track the pose of the object. Models are rapidly produced through a Delaunay tetrahedralisation of points obtained from on-line structure from motion estimation, followed by a probabilistic tetrahedron carving step to obtain a textured surface mesh of the object.”
Equally great news is that he intends to release it as both Mac and Windows freeware. Completely aside from any other obvious application for this amazing software it seems to me this would make one bad-ass way of creating 3D GUI interfaces for use with Augmented Reality and multitouch-plus-pressure sensitive touchscreens, data gloves or the like.