Tag Archives: teaching and technology

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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iPad for research - one size fits all?

After last year’s experience with taking iPad to the field I am finally getting around to reporting back on the 4 week long field research¬†experience with iPad this summer, when we were able to equip our whole field school team (the faculty, a graduate student TA, three undergraduate students and myself) with iPads. Goal for this year was to more extensively explore iPad as a team and to see where it might be useful as a research tool.


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Integrating Technology and Research in Teaching

I have been teaching a GIS course for several years now and I have constantly tried to work towards a better integration of the technology and the substantive research. As I reported earlier, use of the Meyer 220 classroom has significantly impacted the way students interact with the tools as well as the material.

Last year I was approached by Political Science Professor Jonathan Rodden, who suggested to team-teach the class. I was very excited about this opportunity to expand into a multidisciplinary course, closely tied to faculty research. We applied for and received the Hoagland Award Fund for Innovations in Undergraduate Teaching to support this course, an additional recognition of our attempt to bring innovative elements into the class. In this course, now named “Spatial Approaches in Social Science”, we take a collaborative, project oriented approach to bring together technical expertise and substantive applications from the social science disciplines. We integrate tools, methods, and current debates in the social sciences in a course that enables students to engage in critical spatial research and a multidisciplinary dialogue around geographic space.

The course culminated in a digital poster session. We rolled in additional monitors, where students presented their term projects as digital posters in a public event. A number of social science methods courses deal with the issue of integration of technology and research, so my own teaching experience turns immediately into the benefit of other faculty I work with. I am currently supporting Anthropology Professor Ian Robertson, who is teaching his course “Quantitative Data Analysis in Archeological and Anthropological Research” in the same space.