Pictures get another angle

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Scanning technology, which allows users to scan small objects to get a 3D digital image file, could revolutionise managing museum collections of plant or animal specimens, according to the CSIRO.

The 3D digital image file would provide extra information about an object's surface shape and texture, according to a CSIRO statement.

The CSIRO's website said that CSIRO's Mathematical and Information Sciences (CMIS) division had developed a flatbed scanning and imaging system. This was based on a method of scanning visible surfaces of small 3D objects to enable 3D viewing applications and surface measurements. The technology didn't require special glasses or equipment to view, according to the statement.

Anna McDonald, a commercial analyst at CSIRO, said that there were already 3D scanners available, but these tended to be large, expensive and required technical lighting and camera setup. “We live in a three-dimensional world, yet the images we see in magazines and on websites are just two-dimensional. They literally give us only part of the picture,” McDonald said in a statement.

The 3D imaging system developed by CSIRO is protected by an Australian provisional patent, according to its website. “CSIRO also intends to file an International Patent Cooperation Treaty application,” it states.

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