Kyle McDonald has created an Instructable showing how to achieve structured light 3D scanning at home. This technique originated in computer vision literature. The basic idea is that by projecting a known pattern on a surface, it is possible to decode the shape of that surface. Kyle has taken this to a new aesthetic level by developing some very beautiful point cloud renderings from the resulting data:
Kyle’s efforts are related to Radiohead’s House of Cards video, which used laser scanning to achieve the same effect.
How is this related to the future of photography? Well, first of all, it demonstrates the application of photography-like effects to 3D data, with beautiful results. But more importantly, it shows one of the possible effects of augmenting the flash, which is still a relatively “dumb” part of a camera. Smart flashes multiplied by smart optics will equal new modes of capture and expression.