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updated 7/8/2013 11:18:38 AM ET 2013-07-08T15:18:38

The Brazilian national football team (also known as soccer to Americans) is one of the most famous sports teams in the real world, and now they're poised to be the most famous sports team in the virtual world.

The World Football Elo Ratings, a system for ranking sports teams, positions Brazil in the No. 1 spot. Brazil is the current reigning champion of the FIFA Confederations Cup, and also holds the most FIFA World Cup championships.

Now Latin American media company Globo Internacional hopes to immortalize the 23 current members of the Brazilian national team in a digital installation. When finished, the installation will look a bit like a foosball table, but with digital players controlled by hand gestures instead of metal rods.

To do that, a team of imaging experts from a company called Artec 3D met up with the team while they were in Geneva for a match against Italy (Brazil won 4-2). [See also: Soccer-Playing Robot's Creators Release Software for Free ]

Using a single 3D scanner, an external battery and a laptop, the 3D experts were able  to create 3D models of each player from the waist up.  

To get the scans, the technicians used a handheld scanner called an Artec Eva. This device works similarly to a video camera, but is capable of turning the images it captures into detailed digital models without the use of motion-capture suits or stickers.  

To make the 3D models, the technicians scanned the players (who simply sat in a chair) from all sides in order to capture 360 degrees of image data. The scanner then quickly renders the gathered images into a model, so the technicians can see if any areas of the scanned object — in this case, a soccer player — are missing details and should be rescanned.  These types of scanners capture high amounts of data fairly quickly:  It took only five hours to scan the entire team of 23 players.

There were only two major obstacles to the scanning process. The first was defensive player Dante's famous afro, which is so voluminous that it took extra time to capture it in detail. Hair often presents a challenge for 3D scanning because it's a complex structure with a lot of surface area, and hair also reflects light in a different way than the rest of the body.

The scanning process required that players hold still for several minutes, which lead to the second obstacle — the technicians report that they had to rescan left back Marcelo several times because he kept laughing and ruining the scan.  

"The idea is to use head scans of the players and attach them to moving figurines. Then they are placed in an interactive virtual setting. Globo will reveal further details as the installation takes shape," spokesperson John Reed told TechNewsDaily.

"The idea is to create a game strategic planner which is also highly entertaining," added Artec spokesperson Luba Bordaeva.

Email  jscharr@technewsdaily.com  or follow her@JillScharr. Follow us@TechNewsDaily, onFacebookor on Google+.

© 2012 TechNewsDaily

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