Keith Zubrow Field Test

In prior posts I discussed how sensor technology and 3-D modeling software have the ability to completely revolutionize interactive journalism. Storytelling will be in the moment, instead of about it. Fact debates regarding distances will be solved easily. Crime scenes will be recreated Ultimately, my vision is that this technology will become video games for adults.

The magnitude of just how many people will one-day own sensors is very difficult to tell. For starters, the current cost of an iPad scanning device is just under $400. While this is affordable in comparison to other technology, the functionally is very limited and the software associated with the product adds to the problem. On the other hand, much more expensive and sophisticated laser scanners are accurate and create incredibly detailed 3-D models. The work of these amazing devices can be seen below in an episode of PBS’ Time Scanners. Unfortunately, the cost is a huge limitation, and no news agencies that I know of have invested in a laser scanner.

When I began my field my goal was to create a 3-D model of my kitchen and annotate the model to explain the steps it takes to make cookies. In concept, I thought by using a 3-D structure scanner I could virtually recreate my kitchen each ingredient that went along with it. The goal was to portray a model roughly like the one below of an African landfill.

Dandora Dumpsite in Nairobi, Kenya
by African skyCAM
on Sketchfab

My experiment failed miserably. The structure scanner struggled to differentiate the object I was trying to scan from others around it. Additionally, as you will see the proportions of my kitchen are close to being accurate, but the sensor did not measure each detail of the kitchen. In order to try and get the best model I performed the scan about ten times, and still as you can see it is inaccurate.

Kitchen Model 3
by kzubrow
on Sketchfab

I then scanned a roll of cookies, which was legitimately the only scan I conducted of an object that came out resembling what the physical structure looks like.

Cookie Roll
by kzubrow
on Sketchfab

Next I scanned the cookies before I put them in the oven and after they were cooked. What I found extremely interesting was that the scanner could not determine the structure of the raw dough, but easily sensed the baked cookies.

Kitchen Model 4
by kzubrow
on Sketchfab

Kitchen 6
by kzubrow
on Sketchfab

After finishing the field test I came to the conclusion that the technology is not quite close enough to becoming an every-day tool for journalists. The imperfections of the models and the limited number of experts are holding back the advances of the technology. If and when the devices can yield high resolution models than 3-D sensors will become invaluable.

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