A Handheld 3D Scanner Could Let You Upload Your Whole World

3D printing is more popular and accessible than ever, and printers are on course to get even cheaper soon. But printing is only one side of the equation; what about taking 3D pictures? There's a convenient, handheld gadget in the works that could do just that, and way cheaper than anything else has before.

The slightly awkward, plate-sized Fuel3D handheld scanner pulls off its depth-tastic shots with the help of a couple different techniques. It's got two stereo-mounted cameras, for instance, that see in three dimensions like your eyes do, and it's also got a software brain that reads the way light hits an object, and translates that into depth as well. The result is high-def scans that can be used for anything from video games to printing out masks of your own face. Who doesn't want a creepy selfie-mask?

The device itself is in prototype form, and there's some fit and finish work to be done before anything makes its way out to the world at large. And then, of course, there's the matter of getting successfully Kickstarted. The proposed retail price of a grand may be a low in context, but it's a bit pricey when you're just looking to impulse-back some crazy ideas.

If and when the Fuel3D scanner comes out—especially if production can scale up without quintupling the price or something—it could fill in that missing second half of the 3D-printing equation quite nicely. And maybe someday it'll even be actually cheap. [Kickstarter]