One of the best features of the XBox 360 is the device called Kinect. It is a camera that has the capability to sense depth. This means it doesn’t just see pictures, it also knows how far away the various elements are. Therefore it can pick out a person standing in front of it from the sofa behind them. What has impressed me is how people have taken the Kinect gadget and used it for many other purposes. Adding the depth component to a camera greatly increases the uses the camera can be used for.
Naturally then with the progress of technology it was only a matter of time before somebody decided to put this capability into a cell phone or iPad.
Occipital has developed apps that allow people to scan objects in 3-D by walking around them, and to scan entire rooms. One shows how the sensor can enable augmented reality, where virtual imagery is overlaid onto the real world when seen through a viewfinder. In that app, a person plays fetch with a virtual cat by throwing a virtual ball that bounces realistically off real-world objects
Here’s the video they included.
Cameras like this are a good next step to effective augmented reality and rapid 3d modeling of objects and environments. The reason this is useful is you can scan objects and then put them into a simulation to use in the classroom. Add a social component to it and you have students sharing 3d objects.
The cost will keep dropping to the point where I imagine in a few years, most cameras will have this capability.