A new 3D capture tool that debuted at SPAR International 2013 drew attention for its simple design and low cost. Composed of a gaming system sensor (the same PrimeSense technology used in Microsoft’s Xbox Kinect gaming system) and an Android tablet running proprietary software, the handheld device captures 3D data in real time and quickly generates usable models. The system is powered by the tablet battery, which makes the device lightweight and the battery relatively easy to replace. While other handheld and compact scanning systems cost $20,000 to $30,000, the new technology is priced at under $5,000 for the entire package, including both hardware and software.

The company behind the device, DotProduct Technologies—named for the mathematic operation that takes two equal-length sequences of coordinate vectors and returns the cosine of the angle between them—is a startup venture co-founded by computer scientist Rafael Spring and entrepreneur Mark Klusza.

At the instrument's typical range of 12-15 feet, accuracy is 4-6 millimeters. Its primary applications to date have been in scanning industrial plants and oil and gas production facilities for clash detection and as-built documentation. However, the technology also holds a tremendous amount of potential for architectural building information modeling (BIM) and other interior uses, as well as outdoor applications for visualization. 

In this video interview, Brian Ahern, DotProduct CEO, talks about the capabilities of the new technology. The video also shows Spring, who serves as DotProduct’s chief technology officer, demonstrating the handheld scanner in the Broadmoor Mechanical Room in Colorado Springs as part of a series of demos focusing on scanning for equipment removal from an industrial facility. The imaging system returned a comprehensive 3D image of the facility in a matter of minutes.

Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version to clarify details regarding technology specifications.