Category Archives: Noteworthy Bits

An afternoon with the Structure IO 3D Sensor

Thanks to my colleague Paul Zenke at our Academic Technology Lab I was able to give the new Structure IO 3D Sensor a spin.

Setting the scanner up with the iPad is painless, just the sensor battery required about 2h to charge. Using the free Structure scanner app scans are generated as .obj files and can easily be emailed from within the app, the attachment then viewed, for example, with the free KiwiViewer.

For the best quality scan Structure IO recommends:

- Stand about 1 meter (or 3 feet) away from the object or the person
- Make sure that you have an unimpeded 360-degree path around the object or person so that you may capture an entire scan easily
- For objects, placing them at a standard tabletop height allows for the best combination of scanning quality and ease
- For objects, placing them on a smooth, flat surface ensures that the Scanner sample app will consistently capture great scans
- The Structure Sensor works best indoors or outside of direct sunlight

I began putting the object on a smaller pedestal to be able to circle around more freely, but the object needs to be placed on a large base, so I switched to a medium sized table.

My greatest challenge was identify the “right” objects. Shiny or glass objects of course do not work. Objects need to have a minimun size, Structure IO recommend the “size of a medium-sized stuffed animal up to a human bust”.

In addition to the size the shape of the object is also relevant. The more idiosyncratic and the less symmetrical the shape the better. Bilateral symmetry is better than rotational symmetry.

The object below scanned to an extent, but perhaps due to its smaller size (15 cm) the scanner gave up midway:

If scanner is locked in on the object, one can move in any direction and thus also capture part of the inside, as I was able to do with the watering can and the shoe.


Below are some examples of the quality of several attempts. The resolution and level of detail is of course limited by the capabilities of the device.


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Not so good:

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Using ArcGIS Collector with iPad for mobile data collection in the field

Below are detailed instructions for how to use ArcGIS collector on an iPad in offline mode to collect field data on a grid of determined cell size (20x20m) overlaid on a base map of high resolution imagery. Forms are set up to have drop down menus and time stamps are automatically recorded.

The main steps are:

  1. Create the grid as a matrix of rectangular polygons and save it as a shape file.
  2. Edit the attribute table of the shape file to contain the appropriate fields for entry, including codes and drop downs.
  3. Create an online web map  with the to hold the data
  4. Download the web map to the iPad, configure and enter data, then sync.

Details are outlined in this pdf.

Tools used: