Move over, Instagram: The first handheld, real-time 3-D camera is here. Hold the Lynx A up to your friend and walk around her. Before your eyes, it scans her appearance and her shape, then builds a rotatable image in three dimensions.
Send that file to a 3-D printer, and you can print out a wedding-cake statue. Ask your friend to dance, and the Lynx A instantly captures her motion, turning her into a peppy stick figure. It can model complex spaces, too, like an office, car trunk or cathedral.
Inventor Chris Slaughter, a former University of Texas at Austin electrical engineering student who spearheaded the Lynx’s development, got interested in 3-D machine vision in 2011 after a Silicon Valley internship working with robots — which, he learned, have an important weakness.
Most robots are slow at navigating, explains Slaughter, because their sense of sight — their computer vision — is clunky, power-hungry and slow. He came back to UT determined to figure out a better way to capture video that understands shape, spaces and motion.