Thursday, February 7th, 2013 Posted by Jim Thacker

Lynx Laboratories creates ‘point-and-shoot 3D camera’

Texan start-up Lynx Laboratories has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund development of its Lynx A camera: an interesting new device that promises to act as an all-in-one 3D scanner and mocap camera.

Described by Lynx as “the world’s first point-and-shoot 3D camera”, the device actually looks more like a tablet, with a 14″ LCD screen, equivalent on-board storage capacity and a battery lifespan of over four hours.

In addition to RGB video, the uses an infra-red emitter and receiver to generate depth images.

Shape capture and mocap in one unit
The Lynx A Camera has three modes: scene modeling, object modeling and motion capture. In the first two, you simply pan around the object or environment you want to capture as the device builds up a textured 3D model.

The geometry can be navigated interactively using the device’s joysticks, and the resulting data exported via USB in OBJ, STL, XYZ or PLY format.

In motion capture mode, you can just record handheld video footage of an actor and have the Lynx A extract skeletal mocap data in BVH format – there’s no mention of FBX yet.

Priced like a professional DSLR
According to the Kickstarter page, “The Lynx device sells for about the same price as a full-framed DSLR, making it a serious value for small outfits and innovators trying to break into these technologies.”

Exactly which full-framed DSLR is a moot point, but at the minute, a pledge of $1,799 to $2,899 will get you an early production model (the price varies according to how many of the three recording modes it supports).

Updated: Lynx Laboratories tell us that the exact final price of the camera has not been determined yet, and will depend partly on the results of the Kickstarter campaign.

That would put the Lynx A in a similar price bracket to NextEngine’s desktop laser scanner – and, of course, there are free or low-cost mocap solutions based around the Kinect, which currently sells for under $100.

The appeal of the Lynx A is that you get everything in a single portable package, and that you can do the data processing on location on the unit itself, without the need for a desktop machine.

Still an early build
The accuracy isn’t amazing yet (0.5cm for object modelling, 2cm for joint position during motion capture), and a less chunky design might be nice – but the technology is still at an early stage of development.

Either way, the Lynx A is clearly a device that people are interested in: at the time of writing, the Kickstarter campaign had almost hit its $50,000 funding target in just six days.

Read more about the Lynx A on the Lynx Laboratories website

Pledge your support in the Lynx A Kickstarter campaign