Creating 3D models with a simple webcam (w/ Video)

Creating 3D models with a simple webcam
Object 3D reconstruction with texture mapping
( -- Constructing virtual 3D models usually requires heavy and expensive equipment, or takes lengthy amounts of time. A group of researchers at the University of Cambridge, Qi Pan, Dr Gerhard Reitmayr and Dr Tom Drummond have created a program able to build 3D models of textured objects in real-time, using only a standard computer and webcam. This allows 3D modeling to become accessible to everybody.

Qi, Gerhard and Tom presented the system at the 20th British Machine Vision Conference (BMVC'09), in London.

During the last few years, many methods have been developed to build a realistic 3D model of a real object. Various equipment has been used: 2D/, (in visible spectrum or other wave lengths), , , camera, etc. These pieces of equipment are usually expensive, complicated to use or inconvenient and the model is not built in real-time. The data (for example laser information or photos) must first be acquired, before going through the lengthy reconstruction process to form the model. If the 3D reconstruction is unsatisfactory, then the data must be acquired again.

The method proposed by Qi and his colleagues needs only a simple webcam. The object is moved about in front of the webcam and the software can reconstruct the object "on-line" while collecting live video. The system uses points detected on the object to estimate object structure from the motion of the camera or the object, and then computes the Delaunay tetrahedralisation of the points (the extension of the 2D Delaunay triangulation to 3D). The points are recorded in a mesh of tetrahedra, within which is embedded the surface mesh of the object.

Creating 3D models with a simple webcam
Left to right (a) Object rotated by hand in front of camera. (b) Point cloud obtained from on-line structure from motion estimation followed by bundle adjustment. (c) Delaunay Tetrahedralisation of point cloud, partitioning the convex hull into tetrahedra. (d) Carved mesh obtained from recursive probabilisitic tetrahedron carving. (e) Texture-mapped surface mesh.

The software can then tidy up the final reconstruction by taking out the invalid tetrahedra to obtain the surface mesh based on a probabilistic carving algorithm, and the object texture is applied to the 3D mesh in order to obtain a realistic model. Thanks to this simple and cheap system, 3D reconstruction can become accessible to everybody.

The project won "Best Demo Prize" at a conference called ISMAR 2009 (International Symposium of Mixed and Augmented Reality).

Provided by University of Cambridge (news : web)

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Citation: Creating 3D models with a simple webcam (w/ Video) (2009, November 11) retrieved 18 June 2019 from
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User comments

Nov 11, 2009
fantastic, I want it now. why are there artifacts on the chimney?. they look like spider webs connecting the chimeney to the roof or filling in the interior corners. . . it seems to have generated the 3d model incorrectly because of the the spider web artifacts. I guess I could clean it up manually, but it should be easy enough to use the same process to clean up the mistakes from examing additional views. or maybe they were introduced by the hand being in the scene?

Nov 11, 2009
Such procedures have a lot of problems with concave structures. But for simple objects it works well.

Nov 11, 2009
Well, real world objects just are not made out of simple polygons, irl everything is grainy. This is obviously proof of concept, you could easily get significant improvements by post-processing algorithms to identify and adjust groups of polygons based on certain conditions.

The software by default was likely designed to convert what it sees as it is, and that includes a lot of details you might not want in a final scan.

Don't bother getting carried away with demos, what's important here is the technology, the results can be processed as needed.

Of course, understanding that is taken for granted in the context of science, it's always implied that proof of concept technology isn't going to be production ready.

Nov 12, 2009
It will be a mix of conformity and innovation that drives the use of this modeling engine. Not every real world condition can be accounted for, however I am thinking more along the line of cost estimating and the like.

I see the long run implications of triangulated planes limiting. Model compilation may tend toward some more comprehensive geometric analysis.

Either way, the management of information will still be needed for non-coplanar vector sets. These are good guidelines and design tools for voluming as it is presented here.

Nov 12, 2009
Is there a demo version of this software?

Nov 12, 2009
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Nov 16, 2009
Model compilation may tend toward some more comprehensive geometric analysis.

There are very efficients mesh's decication algorithms that could do it.

Nov 16, 2009
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