Sunday, November 27, 2011

Open wide

One of the highlights of VISION, that took place in Germany a couple of weeks back is the presentation of the VISION Award. While the prize money of €5,000 is unlikely to provide much of a return on the investment, the publicity is surely worth a great deal.

This year the award went to The Austrian Institute of Technology for a 3D dental scanner. This is a hand-held device not much bigger than a toothbrush and containing two cameras and a blue LED. The idea is that a dentist, (or hygienist, I suppose,) uses the device to acquire 3D data of a patient’s teeth.

Details are rather sparse although does tell us the system includes “a miniaturized light projection system”. I imagine that means it’s projecting a series of parallel lines onto the teeth. Two cameras ensure there’s minimal shadowing. What I am curious about those is how the data is stitched together. I’m thinking there must be some kind of image to image registration algorithm.

The scanner is being commercialized by A.Tron3D of Austria, whose catchy slogan is “Yes we scan” but sadly they provide no info on the inner workings of the device. Presumably dentists don’t care how it processes the data, only that it does.

Now, open wide and say “Ahhhh.”

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