Last Thursday (September 10th), I was sitting in my office a bit disappointed. My weekend plans were shot to hell and I had nothing to do.
Should I work on some of my myriad pet projects that I had in the offing? No. Not quite in the mood
I browsed through the Venturesity website to see if anything struck my fancy. Aha! A learnup on 3d reconstruction was scheduled. It was conducted by Servelots, a web service provider for SMEs. Hmm…I didn’t really know anything about the field. But because I am an information sponge, I clicked on the “Apply button”. You know. Just to see what it was about.
I got my acceptance email and was all set for the weekend ahead. I could hardly wait!
On Saturday morning, after the obligatory fight with the bed (funny how that always happens to me during weekends 😛 ), I rushed to the venue. The venue was quite familiar as it was in the Knowlarity office. (You might be aware that the Knowlarity office was the scene of many learnups and hackathons.)
I was a bit late but Dinesh, the mentor for the session, was quite accommodating even though he had to cater to a total of 30 participants! He gave me a quick summary of what he had talked about.
The main theme of the day was to build 3d reconstructions from 2d images. He talked about various ways to do this, and promised that we would explore three of them.
Before getting down to the nitty-gritty, as it were, Dinesh asked us all to introduce ourselves. We also talked about our reasons for attending the learnup. It was quite an eclectic crowd. Some, like myself, were complete noobs, while others had particular pain points they wanted to solve. Their motivation was to interact with others in the field.
Once we finished introducing ourselves, Dinesh asked us to split up into three groups. Each group explored one way of performing the reconstructions.
By now, I’m sure you are dying to know what the three ways were. Without further ado, here are the three methods:
- Use Kinect from Xbox to explore a 3d world
- Use Google Cardboard to explore 3d images
- Take a series of 2d photographs and use software to construct a 3d image
I was in the group that explored the last method. We took a series of pictures of a plant from all angles. We then ran it through a specialized software that would do the reconstruction. But, unfortunately, the software didn’t quite work on my computer. This was because my graphics card was out of date!
No matter. We had a general idea of how to use the software and how it worked. Dinesh had given us a series of sample photos to use. We ran those photos through the software on another comp, and hey presto, we had a great 3d image! (Unfortunately, I don’t have the image handy; otherwise I would have put it up for your perusal.)
While we were figuring out how to use the software, a cheap version of Google Cardboard was passed around. I looked through them and saw that I was immersed in a theme park. On the roller coaster ride. It felt so realistic that I reflexively tried to hold on to my chair as the roller coaster car did a loop!
After getting my bearings, I looked around the room. I saw a group of people huddled over Kinect. I hopped on over and saw how their 3d motions were translated on to the screen. Motion capture at its finest!
Dinesh talked about how Kinect could also be used to do 3d reconstruction. He said that this cheap technology put a ton of businesses out of business. Hitherto, research companies had poured in millions of dollars to achieve the same effect. But when Microsoft introduced its Kinect camera developed for another purpose (as the gamers among you know. 🙂 ), people immediately saw its potential!
The session concluded with a discussion of various applications. We talked about such technology being useful in surgery, and other domains.
<rant> It always annoys me when people say things like “Why are you wasting all this money developing this (or that) piece of technology? There are no practical applications!” As can be seen in the case of Kinect, technology developed for video games has a variety of other uses. It could even have medical applications! </rant>
I had a blast attending the learnup. The session catered to all ability levels: a hallmark of a good learnup. With this great experience, I am now inspired to attend as many learnups as I can. The next learnup I have signed up for is the Ruby learnup scheduled for this upcoming weekend (September 19th). Come join me for this learnup! I’m sure you will not be disappointed. 🙂