About this project
Check out some of our press coverage!
Discovery Channel: http://www.discovery.ca/dp/videos/?clipid=863890
Austin American Statesman: http://www.statesman.com/news/technology/from-incubator-program-ut-grad-student-turning-i-1/nRNk6/
Animation World Network: http://www.awn.com/news/technology/lynx-laboratories-launches-3d-camera
Idea2Product Global Winners: http://www.ideatoproduct.se/global/the-award/the-winning-teams-2/
Australian Photography: http://www.australianphotography.com/news/world-s-first-point-and-shoot-3d-modelling-camera
What is it?
It's the world's first point-and-shoot 3D camera. It's not a conventional camera, but it's like a camera - particularly when it comes to learning curve and ease of use. If you can use a point-and-shoot Nikon, you'll find the Lynx even easier to use. Instead of outputting 2D images, it produces 3D models of whatever you point it at.
It's a light, plastic device shaped like a tablet. It has specialized, front-mounted optics including a 640x480 color camera and a 3D sensor. On the front, there's a large, 14" color LCD screen for an instant and accurate view of imaging results. You can navigate your captured models using joysticks, just like a videogame controller. The device has a powerful graphics card for capture/render and high-capacity storage. The battery is good for four hours. It fixes the annoying stuff (bad battery life, small screens, costly storage) of conventional cameras.
Capturing with the device is really cool. From the startup screen, you can select from three features: scene modeling, object modeling, and motion capture. Each starts instantly and has a simple start/stop interface.
Scene modeling is more like a paintbrush. Scan surfaces around you and watch the 3D model get painted in the viewfinder. Scene modeling is more appropriate for large scenes because it stores the models in an extremely efficient manner.
Object modeling is like sculpting with a chisel. You walk around the object of interest and it slowly carves out a watertight 3D model of the object.
Motion capture is like having a motion volume in front of your camera. Point the camera at an actor, press record, and just have the actor start moving around. When you press pause, the results are instantly ready.
With all 3 of these features, you can immediately output the files into the formats you currently use in your workflow including PLY, OBJ, STL, XYZ, JPS, BVH, and more.
One of the most disruptive features of the device is the price. If you cobbled together all the hardware and software you would need to accomplish these tasks, you'd end up dishing out a couple hundred grand. That's not accessible at all. 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.
Who can use the Lynx Camera?
The Lynx A camera is for anyone who wants or needs 3D content. Whether you're an architectural surveyor, VFX artist, video game engineer, maker, or just think its cool, you'll find the content produced by our camera to be useful and easy to acquire. We love hearing new ideas from people about how to use our camera, and we're looking forward to getting some new ideas from our backers.
To make this camera more accessible to everyone, we include desktop software free of charge. You can use the software to output renderings, take measurements and produce stereograms. Over the course of the project, we will also be developing a "cookbook" with the help of backers. This will be a great resource for making cool things with the Lynx A, even with no prior experience.
What makes it different?
The Lynx A scans real things incredibly fast. Other 3D scanning technologies exist, like laser-based (LIDAR) systems, or newer infrared scanners. LIDAR is expensive, with scanners costing in the $40,000 range. Infrared scanners are not as accurate and both types of scanning systems require extensive post-processing.
The Lynx A has several features which set it apart from current 3D scanning solutions:
Fully hand-held and mobile - use it like a conventional video camera with an intuitive interface.
Low cost - more people can now have access to this technology than ever before, and those that already use it will save a significant amount of money.
Faster - capturing models takes minutes, while today's methods take hours or even days.
Real-world scale and shape - models produced by the camera are realistic and capture the true dimensions of environments and objects in meters, so they are easy to measure and analyze.
We're building this camera for the community. There's hundreds of cool applications for makers, designers, and artists. This Kickstarter project is about building a community around this new tool and improving it to meet backers' needs.
We will use a significant amount of the money raised to start a limited production run. Our goal is to work with suppliers and manufacturers to speed up production and lower the cost of materials needed.
We will also use the money to recruit additional team members. We have a great 5 person team right now. But we'd love to bring more talented people in to focus on manufacturing and engaging the community.
What do you get as a backer?
We're limiting the number of cameras we sell so we can keep in touch with every backer. In addition to a koozie, shirt, or a Lynx A camera, you will get directly involved in crafting the direction of the Lynx A. We will hold monthly webinars and semi-annual events to engage project backers at all levels. In these meetings, you can share your ideas for features and improvements, and see how your insights help the camera involved. We'll also keep a regularly updated blog and work with the community to turn ideas into detailed how-tos. It's all about working together.
Risks and challenges
We will face a few risks and challenges as we execute our project. The primary risks for us include:
MANUFACTURING AND LOGISTICS
One risk associated with our project is in manufacturing the cameras. We laser cut each case from sheets of plastic, and build the internals from commodity off the shelf hardware and parts. Sometimes these parts change (they have before). Because we build each camera in-house we can respond well to supply chain changes,
Making each camera in-house is slower than outsourcing but offers a higher level of control. To make sure we ship the cameras on time, we have spent months improving our design and manufacturing practices. We're also limiting the number of cameras sold. This means we have about four times as much time as manufacturing would take with our current practices.
We've already assembled an awesome team here at Lynx. We're sure that we can keep working just as effectively as ever to meet our Kickstarter goals. In the coming months we'll be looking to hire additional personnel to help take us to our next steps. Finding the right fit is incredibly important, especially at a startup, but we're sure that we can successfully find and recruit the right guys for the job.
A Kinect is a 3D imaging sensor that provides a raw feed of 3D points. The Lynx A produces detailed meshes, motion files, and 3D panoramas in real-time thanks to the integrated hardware/software experience. The research that makes this possible was conducted over a year and a half by a qualified research team. It's certainly true that many of the hardware components are readily available, but the same could also be said of an Xbox 360. The real magic is in the software!
The entirety of the code base is not open source at this time. Lynx Laboratories plans to open source an image processing library later this year.
The software was developed from the ground up in-house with few exceptions. Lynx Laboratories' work has led to faster and more accurate ways to capture shape and motion using specialized hardware. These approaches are original and had to be coded up (~45,000 lines) from scratch! The few exceptions include part of our motion capture library and some standard helper libraries.
Thanks? We totally understand that we look young for a high-tech company. But we benefit from a lot of great mentorship, including Prof. Sriram Vishwanath from UT Austin, Bob Metcalfe, and the Austin Technology Incubator. We're passionate about our work and believe we have the right team for the job.
We will provide a standard warranty for beta adopters. We haven't yet decided on a duration for the warranty, but it will be at least 90 days. The warranty will protect against non-accidental damage and catastrophic firmware failures.
More detailed camera specifications can be found at lynxlaboratories.com. The accuracy varies by feature and range. The radial accuracy of Object Modeling is 0.5cm. The accuracy of Scene Modeling is 0.3-3cm "locally."
The camera ships with a 500GB hard disk. You can move data to and from the Lynx A with a USB stick.
The Lynx A runs on Linux.
It means that what you see is what you get. The models you see in the viewfinder during capture are exported at the end of the shoot.
The Lynx A has 2 USB ports, an ethernet connection, and HDMI out. Ethernet can be used to retrieve software updates. USB can be used to connect peripherals if we support them at a later date.
With a USB stick.
We will update your software and firmware free of charge. This includes all updates to the features of your reward but not new features. For example, you will not receive Scene Modeling in a Software Update if your reward does not include this feature.
Sure. If the community wants to experiment with additional sensors, we will do our best to update the Lynx A to connect to them via USB.
The Lynx A does not zoom.
Imaging with the Lynx A takes us about 3-5 minutes in most cases. The models are immediately ready to be printed, so you'll end up spending most of your time waiting for the printer to finish!
We support Windows and Macintosh computers.
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