3D scanning system captures T. rex, bites into upfront costs

3D imaging is an exciting niche in the field of medical imaging. One obstacle to further exploration, though, is the hefty upfront costs to acquire the necessary hardware and software.

Researchers have developed a promising 3D imaging system that costs a few hundred dollars—a mere fraction of the cost of many CT-based systems.

Anshuman Das, a research scientist at MIT, and Ramesh Raskar, an MIT professor, led the work, which used $150 in hardware along with the Microsoft Kinect, a depth-sensing camera designed for video gaming.

The research was published July 5 in PLOS One.

“A lot of people will be able to start using this,” said Das, the first author on the paper. “That’s the message I want to send out to people who would generally be cut off from using technology—for example, paleontologists or museums that are on a very tight budget. There are so many other fields that could benefit from this.”

The new development resulted from a problem with an old patient: 67-million-year-old Sue, a Tyrannosaurus Rex at Chicago’s Field Museum. Forensic dentists wanted to scan her jaw, but the five-foot bone was too large for dental imaging machines.

According to the research team, a high-end commercial 3D scanner has a depth resolution of about 50 to 100 micrometers. The Kinect’s resolution is only about 500 micrometers, but it only costs $100—less than 1 percent of the cost of many 3D scanners.

To read the full article, click here. To read the study in PLOS One, click here.