Scan it, mesh it, rasterize it, upload it and view it online.
That’s the procedure for a new way of presenting material in the Forensic Anthropology class being developed by Song Ho Ahn, a visualization researcher working in Digital Learning and Innovation in the Centre for Teaching and Learning department, the people behind the SLATE system.
The class is focused on learning about remains and what kind of information can be gleaned from them. Song is working on the technical side of the project and is developing an online application to that end.
“My primary responsibility is building the actual application to view the 3D models,” Song says. However, the project didn’t have anyone responsible for scanning, so Song does that, too.
The scanning process uses 2D images to produce a 3D model, according to Song. The item that’s being scanned is placed on a pedestal and then pictures are taken from multiple angles so the item is seen from all sides. “I usually do about eight to 12 [pictures],” says Song.
Next, the digital images are put together in what’s called “meshing,” similar to how panoramic photos are put together, the edges laid on top of one another – except the result is a complete 360-degree view of the scanned object. A bit of calculation can determine how “deep” something is in the picture, so the 2D images can be properly represented in 3D.
Once the pictures are put together, there isn’t any colour, just a 3D model. The next step is to take colour pictures just like the last step, and overlay the colour from the pictures onto the model. This process is called “rasterizing.”
Once that’s done, the model is complete and in colour, and Song will load the model into the application to be viewed online.
The online application is still in its infancy, but right now it allows users to view the 3D images from any angle. Eventually it will be able to put the images together and experiment through cutting the models and measuring them, according to Song and Jaime Ginter, head of the project.
Another similar application is also in development for the Athletic Therapy program using existing models of all of the body’s internal systems to create an interactive 3D map for use in the classroom.
That project isn’t doing its own scanning but will include every system in the body. The skeletal, digestive, circulatory, muscular and other systems will be able to be overlaid on top of one another and seen in 3D space.
Creating these applications is a lot of busywork, though; Song’s interest in 3D technology isn’t in the human body or developing new ways of teaching.
“I really want to create a game engine,” he says. Song believes that realistic game characters can be created and brought to life using data from 3D scans.
Written by: Robert Moodie, Sheridan Journalism student and Sheridan Sun Reporter.