April 26, 2019

Scandy Pro as an e-commerce tool. Not yet, but yes, now.

We think of Scandy Pro as a really versatile tool for general-purpose 3D object scanning. We also know that as our users find more ways to use 3D scanning, they will want more functionality for specific use cases. One area that several of our users have asked for more help is in creating 3D assets for e-commerce. We are big believers that 3D content can be more engaging than 2D content in the right context. Is e-commerce included in that context? We believe that is true, but we really don’t know yet. We’d like to build more tools around Scandy Core that will help online merchants increase their sales. But what to build and for whom?

There are lots of issues around creating 3D assets for online stores. These are the same challenges that anyone faces when looking to generate 3D content. You either have to be great with 3D modeling tools or you have to invest a ton of time on a photogrammetry process. Sketchfab has a nice overview of the various ways to create 3D content here: https://sketchfab.com/blogs/enterprise/news/3d-strategy/create-3d-models. Both approaches demand a learning curve and lots of time. Both approaches can generate really high quality 3D content in the hands of a skilled practitioner. But both require more investment in time than most online merchants can afford to spend.

So how does Scandy help solve this problem? Easy - use Scandy Pro to capture a 3D scan of the object, right? Done. Problem solved. Easy peasy.

NOT. SO. FAST.

While we love the versatility of Scandy Pro, it isn’t the best tool for many jobs. Certain things don’t scan well - cylinders, some materials, even furniture can be tough. Getting a complete 360 scan can be challenging and time consuming. And the end result, as good as it is, many times cannot compete with a high-resolution 2D photograph in terms of displaying the best features of a product.

I had the good fortune to get connected with Jon Wade who works in VR/AR R&D at Shopify. He thinks about all these things. A lot. Jon was very generous with his feedback on what type of assets are needed for a high quality e-commerce 3D experience. (Thank you, Jon. Y’all can follow him here: https://twitter.com/asjonish) An Augmented Reality e-commerce experience is going to demand more than just a pretty mesh. There are other issues that need to be addressed. Capturing a 3D scan also captures the lighting from the scanning environment. So any shadows that were captured need to be removed from the model. Is there a texture that needs to be placed onto a model so that its reflection of light from an AR scene matches its appearance in reality? If so, we are back to needing a digital artist.

One of the killer applications for having a 3D representation of an online product is to place that object into Augmented Reality. Giving a customer the option to experience the object in their home or other personal space is quite possibly the next frontier of e-commerce. Lighting and material considerations can have a significant impact on whether that experience is engaging, off-putting, or downright disappointing. There really are a huge number of variables to consider. Shopify has a thorough review of tools, techniques and modeling standards that digital artists can reference here: https://help.shopify.com/en/partners/resources/creating-3d-models.

It can be daunting for someone who just wants to display their wares on the web and give customers a great 3D shopping experience.

So what is the answer?

First of all, our goal with Scandy Pro is to get more people creating 3D content. We want to make the capture process easier, and we want to make the output better. We recently introduced new tools like simple hole filling and auto-clean. Our product roadmap includes tools to add textures, remove shadows, and generally make scans better looking. But we know we have a long way to go before Scandy Pro can fill all of the needs of high-end e-commerce asset creation tool.

We are firm believers, however, that the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good. Getting assets that a digital artist can use to create models can be quite the chore. The current process demands that any e-commerce owner (either on Shopify, Etsy, or elsewhere) capture lots of measurements of the object and dozens of photos. If you want to better understand the workflow from the perspective of a digital artist, here’s a great overview: https://medium.com/shopify-vr/how-we-turn-physical-products-into-realistic-3d-models-for-ar-13f9dc20d964

What many people may not know is that when you capture a 3D scan with Scandy Pro, the resulting file has measurements incorporated into the file. You can view the file in AR within Scandy Pro and extract measurements there, or the digital artist can simply open the 3D scan file in MeshLab or other 3D design program and generate the measurements there. That simple step can eliminate measurement errors and give the digital artist a much truer representation of the object they are designing.

If you are a digital artist who is creating 3D files for e-commerce, we’d love to connect with you and see if Scandy Pro can help accelerate your design process or make the data collection for your customers an easier task. We’d also love the opportunity to collaborate on what tools you or your customers might find valuable. Please hit us up at hello@scandy.co.

Scan on, my friends




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