How to scan a room with a 3D scanner
What do you need to keep in mind when 3D scanning a room? First, it’s important to ensure the 3D room scanner you use is suited to the task. In this guide, we look at why you'd scan a room, how to do it, what the best room 3D scanner is, and what else you should be aware of.
A look at scanning
When it comes to scanning, it’s easy to first think about scanning objects. That can mean scanning customized car parts for reverse engineering or quality checking a factory production line, extracting data for detailed measurements in the orthopedic industry or having your own body scanned for exact measurements and clothes that fit you (and you alone) perfectly.
A 3D scan of the entire room gives you exact dimensions of every surface.
How do you 3D scan a house?
You can scan the outside of a house. You might already know all about scanning entire buildings and facades, too. But what about 3D scanning the inside of a house – four walls, a ceiling, a floor, windows, furniture, and everything else you’d find?
You could be an interior designer trying to digitally demonstrate your new concept. Or a historian who needs to document the crumbling walls of an old fortress. Whatever the reason, from time to time, you may need to scan a room. Here’s how!
Can you 3D scan an entire room?
Absolutely. First, it’s important to ensure the scan you acquire is usable and complete.
To scan a room in high detail, you'll want to consider a scanning solution with long-range and exceptional accuracy. Artec Ray allows you to scan large areas and flat surfaces quickly without any problems due to alignment, tracking, or registration, and Ray’s minimal noise speeds up data processing and makes your task far more straightforward. Meanwhile, tricky nooks and complex surfaces may also need to be reached – for this we suggest either Artec Leo or Artec Eva, professional handheld scanners famous across multiple industries. Besides speed and ease of use, Artec Leo allows you to see your 3D model being built as you scan, while with Eva you can process the scans immediately after scanning, making the two scanners compatible additions to your scanning.
How does 3D technology work? Head over here to find out.
Like any scanner, Artec Leo works best in a space with balanced and constant lighting during the scan.
Why would you 3D scan a room?
Next, let’s take a look at why you’d need or want to scan a room. As with most situations centered on scanning, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few more ways such a 3D scan might come in useful.
If you’ve ever tried to measure anything, you already know that unless you’re dealing with a small object or straight lines (and accuracy isn’t essential), the process can be both time consuming and unreliable. With 3D scanning, the chances of shaky hands and inconsistency are greatly decreased and the scanning can be done easily, consistently, and quickly.
If measurements are needed for renovation or the sale or rental of a house, for example, scanning your kitchen to get the exact measurements, area, and dimensions is your answer.
Making a movie or developing a video game? A 3D scan of a house interior digitizes the space you are in, which means you’ll be able to manipulate the setting with colors, shapes, sizes, new characters, and special effects.
This is especially useful for something like a horror movie: An apocalypse is much easier to bring to the screen if you have a realistic space to start with. Got a creepy old basement scanned? Just add zombies.
A room scan is the perfect solution for creating realistic VR, too. If your computer-generated environment is a scan of something real, all the more realistic your virtual experience will be.
Imagine you’re an interior designer who needs to show your client the plans you’ve drawn up for their future home. What better way to demonstrate your vision than by superimposing it onto the room itself? A 3D-scanned room gives you a perfect model of the place you’re working with, digitized and ready for you to put your expert touches on.
This helps architects, curators, and designers as well. Create your own space, and sell your ideas as realistically as they can be without wasting time and money on real-life demos or physical models.
There are some places in which you’re welcome to look around, but you definitely shouldn’t be touching anything within. Imagine if you could explore the hidden recesses of an ancient temple, or come face to face with a museum’s artifacts without worrying about disturbing the setting they’re in or damaging them somehow. If you need to explore a space without disrupting it in any way, a 3D scan is your answer.
Before and after photographs can offer you a good look at the effects of renovation, restoration, or refurbishing work done within a room, but 3D room scanning takes this up to the next level, giving you a 360-degree interactive look in and around the room, from virtually any vantage point.
Time and accuracy
Measuring a table or a box with measuring tape is one thing. Now think about having to measure an entire room: While you’re being careful not to let anything slip, you're also trying to do a thorough, timely job – unfortunately, those two things don’t necessarily go hand in hand.
A quick 3D scan of an entire room gives you the exact dimensions of every surface in the room, with highly precise results and no time wasted.
What is the best 3D scanner?
A long-range laser scanner is one way to get your scan. With Artec Ray, for example, the laser technology makes its way around the room, creating a point cloud. To capture the room in its entirety, you may need to place the scanner in several points. With Ray, this ensures that everything you’re scanning within 110 meters (and even if you’re trying to digitize the great hall of a medieval castle, this is likely the case) will be included in the scan. A preview takes as little as two minutes, while the actual scan is dependent on various factors, including how much detail is required.
Another benefit of a fast laser scanner such as Ray is that it has submillimeter precision for accurate measurements, and high 3D resolution to capture not only a precise outline of the area you’re scanning, but the smaller details as well.
If what you need is to capture parts of a room in higher 3D resolution or in areas that are difficult to access, we recommend using more than one scanner. For example, using Artec Leo in combination with Artec Ray allows you to utilize the best of both: A Leo scan’s texture and resolution paired with your Ray scan as a backbone, providing context for the item you need to highlight.
If you’re an interior designer demonstrating how furniture would look in the room, a full scan provides the setting, while targeted scanning of furniture added to the room allows the detail, color, and texture that sells the concept.
With a long-range scanner such as Ray, the scanner does much of the work for you, and can largely stay in place while the laser technology scans its way around the room. For a handheld scanner such as Artec Leo or Artec Eva, you manually take it with you throughout different parts of the space you’re in, or in targeted locations.
For any scanner, blank surfaces and unmarked walls can be difficult to scan. With Ray, the ability to cover large areas in one scan decreases the need for aligning several smaller scans together.
If you’re using Artec Ray for your room scan, we’ve got good news: Artec Studio can align Ray scans without targets. Just ensure that there’s sufficient overlap between your scans, with different items that can be used as reference points during post-scan processing. Geometrical features such as a table or a curtain could be your answer to successful alignment and registration.
If you do need to use targets and spheres, here’s what you should know.
Creating the right conditions
Sure, it goes without saying that you’re going to need a room if you want to scan a room. But, there are some things to keep in mind before you get scanning. First, you need the right lighting. Sufficient lighting and uniform conditions are key to a good scan.
Another possible setback in your scanning project may come in the form of objects that are shiny, transparent, or reflective. As you already know, items like these don’t typically scan well. In this case, it’s best to spray them with a coating spray or with paint, or to remove them from the room altogether.
Take as many scans as necessary if you’re scanning from different angles.
The right angles/floor space
We’re willing to bet that your home isn’t made up of symmetrical rooms with only flat surfaces, no angles and no turns. In the case of split levels or steps, you’ll need to position your scanner in numerous locations. Same goes if you’re trying to scan around a corner, or beyond a cabinet.
In some cases, you’ll need to combine several scans. If you’re scanning a room from different angles, distances, or spaces, you’ll need to take as many scans as necessary to capture every bit of the room, and then piece them together during post-processing. If you’re using several scanners, their respective data may need to be combined – to fill a backbone scan of the room with furniture and other details captured separately, for example.
Artec Studio allows you to combine the scan data from the Artec 3D scanner range.
How does laser 3D scanning work? When should you use a handheld scanner?
To learn how to turn the world around you into 3D models, it’s first important to choose the right kind of scanner. For small and medium-sized objects, handheld scanners are ideal. For larger objects, laser scanners are recommended.
Have a look at our guide to 3D scanning with more on how 3D scanners work.
Things to remember
Once you’ve got a room of your own to scan, and a scanner or two to scan it with, your surfaces made scannable, and your software set up, you’re almost good to go. Here are some final things to consider!
If you need help with registration and alignment, it might be useful to set up checkerboards and spheres. In the absence of the auto-alignment features you’ll find on Artec Studio, targets can ensure especially high precision and accurately facilitate combining multiple scans that you've captured throughout the room.
Depending on the scanner you’re using, the field it can reach plays an important part. Does your scanner reach far enough? Or do you have to move in closer to properly capture the walls or ceilings furthest from you?
And there you have it: The options you have for scanning a room, what tools will work best and the many ways it can work for you.
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