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If you're a biologist looking to capture a 3-D image of the critters you study, it pays to have a system that works fast — and works the first time. After attempted scans of a shark turned out "atrocious," biologist Duncan Irschick and his colleagues at the University of Massachusetts Amherst decided to build their own to make sure that never happened again.
The result is "Beastcam," a rig with point-and-shoot cameras mounted on flexible arms, allowing pictures to be taken from several angles at once, and in a hurry.
"Current scanning systems, such as laser scanners or CT scanners, are typically slow, and often require bulky and expensive machinery," said Irschick in a news release from the university. "Faster and less expensive alternatives typically are not of a sufficiently high resolution to create detailed models, especially over a short time span. So we created the Beastcam using off-the-shelf materials to provide a portable, fast, easy-to-use, high quality and low-cost system."
Now he can scan anything from geckos to humans to sharks in a handful of seconds and instantly produce a 3-D model for printing, teaching, or just for posterity.
Irschick hopes to take the Beastcam down to Florida next, to get a good scan of the shark that escaped his attempts last time.