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"I don't know why I write science fiction. The voices in my head told me to!"
- Charles Stross

Feeler-Planes  
  Special sensors that make extremely detailed three-dimensional models.  

Prior to his stay on Iszm, traveler Aile Farr was forced to sit still for an exquisitely accurate biometric identification method.

"On the gray disk, Farr Sainh - palms forward, eyes wide."

He stood rigid as feeler-planes brushed down his body. In a glass dome a three-dimensional simulacrum of himself six inches high took form. Farr inspected it sourly.

From The Houses of Iszm, by Jack Vance.
Published by Better Publications in 1954
Additional resources -

The feeler-planes were able provide remarkable details about a surface - including finger-prints - in a completed tri-type record.

The problem of 3D model acquisition (the digitization of a real, three-dimensional object) is more difficult than you might think.


(Acquisition with light source, camera, calibration target, test object)

It is particularly difficult to obtain digital models that correctly capture fine texture details:

Several views of each object are captured with different camera and light source positions. For each view, we acquire a series of photographs of the object lit by the point light source, with varying exposure time from which a high dynamic range image [2] is calculated. After calibrating with the known brightness of the lamp, each pixel of the high dynamic range images contains full range, floating point radiance samples. Furthermore, we take two images to recover the light source position relative to the camera and one image of the object's silhouette to register the 3D geometry model with the images [8]. In a production environment, the 3D scanner, camera, light source, and the test object could be combined into single, calibrated gantry to speed up the acquisition process and to render the registration unnecessary.
Read more at Digital Collection of Real World Objects.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Houses of Iszm
  More Ideas and Technology by Jack Vance
  Tech news articles related to The Houses of Iszm
  Tech news articles related to works by Jack Vance

Feeler-Planes-related news articles:
  - DAVID Freeware Laser Range Scanning
  - NextEngine 3D Scanner Captures Your World
  - RealView 3D Scanner - For Your Desk
  - QuickScann3D Has Your Full Body Duplicate
  - Mini Statues Of You From 3D Images
  - MIT 3D Scanner - 1000x Improvement?
  - Scanify 3D Scanner For You!

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