I’m all about being an early adopter of certain technology, but those opportunities usually involve being one of millions of consumers buying the same thing. Not so with the tech behind a new Shapify booth. The new kiosk in Oregon’s Washington Square Mall is one of just three in the United States and among the first in the world. The premise: step onto a platform for a full-body scan and have a 3D statue of yourself sitting on your desk in a week. Though not inexpensive, the resulting 3D “Shapie” is geek chic at its finest.
We’ve all heard about (and taken) dozens of selfies, a phenomenon that’s inspired an outright ban on selfie sticks at the hallowed photographic grounds of Walt Disney World. The Shapify booth takes that concept to a whole new dimension — the third — by letting you pose, even with friends, and having that moment in time immortalized in a 3D-printed figurine.
The Shapify booth is the collaboration between two companies, a 3D hardware and software firm called Artec 3D, and a 3D scanning and software outfit named Digital Scan 3D. Having just the third kiosk in the United States hit Portland makes sense; the metro area is also home to Intel and a variety of tech companies that’s earned one area of town the moniker “Silicon Forest.” But while there are clearly B2B and SLA/prototype implications for the underlying technology, the everyday “wow” factor of the 3D Shapies is definitely the draw for mall shoppers.
“From sculptures and portraits to cameras and camera phones, humanity is constantly searching for the best way to remember people and moments,” says Richman Siansimbi of Digital Scan 3D. “The Shapify Booth was released about 10 months ago in Europe [and] we brought it to the USA about three months ago. This product was designed because most people wanted scans of themselves so they 3D print it.”
Ahh, yes, 3D printing. That’s where the rubber meets the road for the future of production. Or, in the case of these Shapies, where the gypsum meets the pedestal.
The Shapify booth is essentially the frontman for an advanced yet streamlined process. An individual or small group steps onto a platform and strikes a pose for 12 seconds while a rigging lined with cameras spins around them taking 700 photos per second. Each frame has more than 300,000 points, generating a 3D model between 2GB and 3GB in size. The resulting model is processed for three minutes on-site before being uploaded to the cloud for additional refinement. After five minutes, the more-polished 3D rendering returns to the local Shapify booth so the people who were scanned/photographed can see how it turned out.
“Before our technology, this used to take hours to scan and process,” Siansimbi says.
If you like the 3D model, you can choose to either buy the digital version for 3D printing at home or order one of the Shapies directly from the Digital Scan 3D staff. The 3D models can be printed on any 3D printer you may have, while the statues ordered from the Shapify team are produced in full color using a Projet 660 Color 3D Printer.
The Shapify booth price for a 3D figure isn’t cheap, ranging from $139 for a 4.5-inch statue to $299 for a 9-inch model. But let’s be honest: the Shapify booth cost for a would-be owner hovers in the $180,000 range, so the figurines can’t be inexpensive, at least not now. Plus, there’s always the “early adopter” premium to consider, a concept with which we tech junkies are all familiar.
That said, the underlying technology, the speed and ease of the entire process, and the high quality of the scan and Shapie are on a level I’ve not previously seen. If you’re lucky enough to be near one of the three Shapify booth installations (New Jersey, Palo Alto and Portland) and are looking for a literally one-of-a-kind gift, it’s hard to top your very own Shapie.