Mantis Vision – Portable Scanning in 3D

The Mantis Vision F5 3D scanner

The F5 3D scanner and handheld unit

Image of the F5 3D scanner and handheld unit

The F5-SR scanner for short range 3D scanning
An Israeli company developed a small, portable hand held scanner that can create a 3D model of a complex environment in several minutes – something that would have taken hours or days until recently and require complex equipment. Applications range from police crime scene analysis to medicine and scanning human body parts for prosthetics as well as a quick and simple way of creating 3D CAD models of for architects and interior designers.
Creating a 3D model of an object or a complex indoor or outdoor space is extremely useful for many professionals in various fields. In recent years several companies such as Artec 3D, NDI, creaform3d and others, came up with small lightweight 3D scanners that claim to be able to create a 3D model using a portable scanner. However the technology developed by Mantis Vision claims to be the first to enable a 3D scanner designed specifically for field use with a host of unique features no other existing product on the market has.
Among other things, Mantis Vision’s 3D scanner was built to scan outdoors (other scanners are said to have very limited capabilities in this respect), it does not require an external laptop to work and instead uses a small connected smartphone-like device which allow a single user to operate (most other scanners a require a 2 person team), it has a much longer range (about 12 feet) which gives the operator much more flexibility and finally it uses invisible infra red light which means it is the ideal tool for covert military operation.
Mantis Vision currently has two types of 3D scanning devices on the market – the main product- F5 3D and the F5-SR (for short range 3D scanning). Both use the company’s MVP software application that processes data and creates the final 3D point cloud model which can then be used in a CAD software.  

TFOT recently had a chance to interview Sharon Tzvielli, Marcom manager for Mantis Vision, and ask her a few questions about the company and its technology.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about Mantis Vision and its background?
A: Mantis Vision Ltd. is the leading developer of user-friendly 3D scanning technologies and solutions, and the producer of the only handheld 3D scanning solutions specifically designed for field-use. Mantis Vision’s patented technology enables accurate 3D modeling of cluttered and complex scenes and hard-to-reach objects, in seconds to minutes. 

Headquartered in Israel, Mantis Vision is active throughout the globe, serving a diverse clientele worldwide, in markets such as defense, law enforcement, Oil & gas, manufacturing, engineering and construction, cultural heritage and more.

 
Q: Can you explain how your 3D imager technology works?
A:  Mantis Vision’s 3D scanning technology belongs to the Active Triangulation (AT) product family recognized for its high accuracy.

Our F5 3D Imaging solution comprises of two system components: the 3D acquisition unit (Imager) and our MVP software application that processes the data and creates the final 3D point cloud model. 

 
The handheld 3D imager con­sists of a video camera channel and light projector embedded within an ergonomic handgrip. Capturing the 3D environment is similar to using a regular (2D) video camera. The only difference between a 2D video camera and the Mantis Vision system is the type of flash light (projector) used. The system acquires the scene’s depth by projecting invisible (infrared) light onto the environment through a mask (i.e., a slide) containing Mantis Vision’s proprietary single Coded-Light pattern, which contains all the indexing information required by the triangulation algorithm. This way, a complete 3D range-image is captured by a single “camera snapshot”. This unique single pattern codification method allows for the distinct identification of a hundred times more points than all the other systems known to us.
After acquisition, the videos from the imager are downloaded onto a PC where the MVP software can decode each video frame into a dense point-cloud of the three-dimensional distance measurements (~ 50,000 points of data per frame). The MVP then automatically registers (aligns) the frames in the 3D video to recreate the 3D geometry of the scene and its grayscale (i.e. intensity image). Using the various tools in the MVP, the user can work with and analyze the captured scene, create 3D models of objects from the scene and export them to 3D CAD applications for reverse engineering and manufacturing applications, for example. Dimensions from the captured scenes can also be extracted using MVP’s advanced measurement tool.

Q: How does the 3D imager technology differ than other 3D scanning technologies available on the market today?
A: Mantis Vision’s F5 Series of handheld 3D imagers are the only 3D scanning solutions specifically designed for field-use. Mantis Vision’s technology enables the capturing of high resolution 3D shapes of objects in free motion, and can even be operated from moving platforms. As a result, the technology provides a number of unique and highly beneficial attributes:
  • High accuracy levels of depth measurements.
  • Ability to capture images in free motion – the camera, the object and the captured environment can be in motion.
  • Dense sampling at high resolutions of hundreds of thousands of points per single frame.
  • No dependency on color or texture and the ability to project at invisible wavelengths such as infrared.
  • Operation under challenging lighting conditions.
  • Ability to acquire challenging targets, such as shiny and largely contrasted surfaces.
 
Working with the F5 system is as easy as working with a regular 2D home video camera. One differentiator that aids ease of use is the system’s wide working range,  that starts from 0.5m and up to 4.5 meters. Other handheld solutions available today are limited to a few tens of centimeters working distance.
 
Our scan time is more than 100 times faster than any other 3D handheld scanner available in the market today. Car sized objects are fully scanned in just minutes. 
 
 Another major advantage of the F5 system in comparison to other 3D handheld solutions is the capability to work in an outdoor environment; other competing solutions are very limited and require an indoor, more sterile environment.
 
In summary the F5 is the only solution today that can deal with acquiring 3D information within seconds to minutes from large objects or small environments (few meters on few meters) in indoor and outdoor environments achieving 0.5mm local accuracy and few millimeters as global accuracy.
 
Q: How much time does it take to scan an object [say car sized] and from what distance can you scan an object?
A:  working with the F5 system to scan object in a size of a car will take few minutes, 2 to 3 minutes depends on the car size and the level of details tar are required.
It will take the same time for scanning small piping room as an example of 3 meters on 3 meters size.

Q: What is the scan resolution and how do you compare to other products on the market in this respect?
A: The scan resolution can be defined in several ways.
The XY scan density in a single frame will be about 3 mm at a working distance of 1 meter, but the XY density on the final model will about 0.1mm.
The local accuracy that can be achieved will be between 0.5 to 1 mm in a size of 1 meter object, and global accuracy of an object the size of a few meters will be a  few millimeters.
Q: Does your 3D imager technology have the capability to scan moving objects and does this mean that you can somehow create 3D video (maybe by combining the video of several 3D imagers)?
A: The F5 system has the capability to capture motion in its nature. It is also possible to capture dynamic scene with multiple cameras synchronized to the same time base, and by that being able to view the 360 degree dynamic scene from any desired viewing angle.
Q: What are the current applications of your technology?
A: The F5 system was designed as a field operation system for capturing 3D data of complex and clustered environments and objects. The common factor of all application types is the need to obtain complete 3D data of complex and hard to reach objects in a short time  – typical long range scanners do not provide optimal solutions for that.
Examples of markets working with the F5 today, and examples of some applications they use the technology for:
  • Law Enforcement – crime scene analysis and car accident documentation. 
  • Military – Explosive Ordinary Disposable and battle damage assessment.
  • Maritime – piping areas, engine rooms, for planning and parts replacement.
  • Automotive – Crash test analysis, manufacturing.
  • Orthopedics – scanning human body parts, prosthetics.
  • Oil & Gas – Offshore rigs, planning, repair and documentation of ship parts, engine rooms. etc.
  • Industrial plants – machine documentation.
  • Reverse Engineering – complex mechanical parts.
  • Aviation – cockpit scanning, fuselage parts. etc.
  • Archeology & Cultural heritage – collection documentation and interactive online galleries. 
Q: Does the F5 come with special software?
A: Mantis Vision product includes the MVP SW package for the 3D model creation. After acquisition, the videos are downloaded onto a PC (laptop or a desktop) where the MVP software can decode each video frame into a dense point-cloud of the three-dimensional distance measurements (~50,000 points of data per frame). The MVP then automatically registers (aligns) the frames in the 3D video to recreate the 3D geometry of the scene and its grayscale (i.e. intensity image). Using the various tools in the MVP, the user can work with and analyze the captured scene, create 3D models of objects from the scene and export them to 3D CAD applications for reverse engineering and manufacturing. Dimensions from the captured scenes can also be extracted using MVP’s advanced measurement tool.
 
Q: How much does the F5 3D imager cost and who is already using it?
A:  The end user price of the F5 system is 39,000 US$, and 29,000 US$ for the F5-SR (the close range version). Today we have variety of users in law enforcement and defense organizations in the US and Europe, as well as in the industrial markets throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
Q: What do you see as the next step for the technology – what are we going to see next in the field of portable 3D scanners?
A: Mantis Vision technology is a scalable technology that can be modified into any size and cost. Mantis Vision’s roadmap includes introducing our technology into multiple new markets both in the high-end and the “Prosumer”, with new applications tailored to the various industries. 
From one aspect the market has a crucial need for more professional solutions, and on the other there is major need for mass quantities of affordable 3D handheld scanners for professional applications such “as built” in the construction engineering, real time 3D portable device for architectures , accurate portable easy to use solutions for medical application that will be placed in the hands of the medical staff. 

A video showing F5 scanner used for 3D modeling of car accident in near real-time

A video demonstrating the F5 scanner used for forensic work