A parallel Worlds

Monday November 24 2014 / Science & Technology - Art & Design

In 1999, the world met computer programmer, Thomas A. Anderson, better known as his alter ego, bad-to-the-bone hacker Neo, in the movie, The Matrix.

The special effects in this film were (and pretty much still are) incredible, the most memorable involving Neo dodging a bullet, his body’s reaction to the speeding projectile is captured in the round by dozens of cameras, giving the audience a 360° view of the incredible action sequence.

Since the film’s debut, this multiple-angle photography, better known as “bullet time,” has been embraced by companies like German-born Twinkind, who have used the technology to develop their own 360° scanning systems. Pairing it with 3D printing, Twinkind creates incredibly real, miniaturized statuettes of…you!

The creators of this “twinning” system, Kristina Neurohr and Timo Schaedel, were first inspired to develop their concept after encountering Omote, a Tokyo pop-up shop printing small, lifelike figurines using 3D printing technology.

Enamoured of the concept but feeling that the scanning process used by the Japanese start-up took too long – it required standing still for 15 minutes – the two Germans decided to make it better.

First, they whittled down the 3D imaging time from 15 minutes to 1/5000 of a second, meaning broader possibilities for scanning things like pets, small children or any other being that doesn’t normally sit still for long.

Then the team integrated elements of photogrammetry to complete their rapid, custom scanner.

“Part of our technology is similar to what many know from the Matrix Effect,” says Twinkind. “The multi-camera system is based on photogrammetry principles – guaranteed no harm to your body.”

In its simplest form, photogrammetry is a process in which photography is used to take measurements determining the exact position and shape of an object by defining its surface points. This information is then transformed into a three-dimensional image via computer.

So, what is the procedure for turning “me” into a “mini-me?”

First, Twinkind asks that you make an appointment; the catch being you must show up in person. At present, the only Twinkind studio in existence is located in Hamburg, Germany. Neurohr and Schaedel plan on expanding their business after experiencing high demand for their tiny statues, but have yet to say where or when.

If you are able to get to Hamburg, then you can proceed onto step two: the shoot.

Because Twinkind has sped up the digital scanning process, people and reasonably sized – meaning not too large – pets are eligible to be made into miniature versions of themselves. Prices vary from €99 for a 7.5cm sculpture up to €695 for a 35cm sculpture.

Once at the studio and in position, the scanning process can begin. The custom-engineered photogrammetry 3D scanner sweeps over your motionless frame and in a split-second, all 360 degrees of you are re-created – clothes, hair, shoes and all – in digital form.

This digital image is then sent to a state-of-the-art colour 3D printer to engrave a new, miniaturized you through a sintering process, which builds your twin using a composite material. According to the Twinkind website: “Powder is used to build the layers and subsequent layers are melted as new powder is added, resulting in a final, 3-D printed image.”

The texture of the printed 3D image is clay-like but not as durable as plastic so it must be handled and stored with “extreme caution”.

Voxel by voxel (a combination of volume and pixel – the 3D equivalent of a pixel), you are reborn into a perfect, shrunken representation of yourself. Dishevelled or prim and proper, Twinkind immortalizes you, in the now.

The little statues that come out of the printer are so real you expect them to start walking and talking. Facial expressions, wrinkles, lay of the hair and body dimensions are perfectly proportionate, almost scarily so.

As amazing as Twinkind’s custom technology is, it also comes with limitations. Delicate fabrics such as chiffons and silks cannot be replicated on a large scale, nor can highly polished objects, like leather shoes. However, these features can be reproduced after the printing at extra cost.

Also, detailed patterns on clothing should be avoided because they can confuse the scanning system and small accessories, like glasses and belts must be printed separately but can be incoporated later.

Because of their popularity, the delivery period for the figurines is anywhere between two to six weeks. The company says with good care, they should last a lifetime.

In this new form of tangible photography, Twinkind hopes that their life-like 3-D printed images will soon usher in a new way to freeze a moment in time. “We do believe that 3-D photo figurines will become a well-regarded addition to our photography culture,” says Schaedel.

For more information about Twinkind, please visit: http://www.twinkind.com/en/landing.

Suggested by
Steven Rogers

Monday November 10 2014 / Science & Technology

Syringe, needle, iodine, cotton balls and a drop of blood: You are now entering the territory of the most dreaded of all visits to the doctor – the one where you need an injection.

Having cold, surgical steel jabbed into various parts of the body to deliver a necessary vaccination is an event that few of us enjoy.

Luckily, there are people out there who are trying to come up with a way of administering a shot that doesn’t involve pointy steel needles.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are in the process of developing a microscopic “tattoo” that can inoculate patients painlessly.

Monday October 27 2014 / Art & Design - A Little Levity

The ancient, pre-Christian Celts believed that there was one day of the year when the ghosts of the dead mingled with the living. This day, called Samhain, was a time to pay tribute to the spirits of their departed ancestors.

Nowadays, this tradition has evolved into “Halloween”, where the dead have become a creepy costume and rather than honouring them, we often find them terrifying.

In his workshop, surrounded by what looks like a set of props from a Hollywood horror flick, Maskull Lasserre seems to be reinvigorating this ancient Celtic tradition, repurposing familiar objects into macabre sculptures and carvings.

Where there were once bell jars, tree branches or axes, Lasserre has chiselled intricate skulls, nooses and snake skeletons.

Monday October 13 2014 / Art & Design

The Cuillin Ridgeline on the Isle of Skye in Scotland is a range of craggy mountains stretching 30 rocky peaks over 12 km (7.5 miles). At their highest outcropping, they reach 992 metres (3,255 feet).

They are a mountain climber’s paradise and some of the most challenging terrain to negotiate on foot…

But then there are those who do it differently.

Ascending these rugged peaks was the dream of Danny Macaskill, a climber of sorts: the kind on two wheels.

This professional bike rider and stunt BMX cyclist decided to push the limits of his incomparable skill by making good on his boyhood ambition: riding up and along the notoriously difficult and dangerous Cuillin Ridgeline and capturing the death-defying climb in his latest film The Ridge.

Monday October 6 2014 / Science & Technology - Art & Design

If you’ve ever listened to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumblebee, you might remember the frantic pace of the music, evoking the busy life of a buzzing bee.

Now, the flight of the bumblebee is more about the species’ ominous disappearance from earth

Racing to save the six-legged insects from extinction, some people are taking up beekeeping.

While they are donning protective clothing and harvesting honey, Sam Droege is arming himself with a macro lens fitted camera to take extremely detailed photos of his furry friends, the bees.

He hopes to avoid the day when, as he says, “all the bees are gone and now we’re screwed”.

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