For centuries, people commissioned painters to create portraits of them or their families to hang on the walls (if they could afford to do so). The invention of photography brought this luxury of self-admiration to the masses. As cameras became commonplace everyone began snapping photos at weddings, holidays, and other important events. Then came the digital age, the camera phone, and finally the smartphone, and suddenly there were billions of pictures and videos being taken and posted online daily.
And as we all know, a huge chunk of these were — or rather are, since we’re now up to date — selfies. We’ve been spending time looking at ourselves since mirrors were invented, and the domination of selfies across image sharing sites shows that this habit isn’t going anywhere soon. But like everything else in life, technology keeps reinventing and changing how we do things. In this case, how we admire ourselves.
After all, photos are so last century. It’s time we were able to admire ourselves in new and better ways. Doob 3D, a 3D printing company, agrees. The Dusseldorf-based business now has four 3D scanning booths set up in the US — two in New York and one each in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In addition to more locations around the world where people can have their image captured by rows of cameras. Then translated by proprietary 3D software, and ultimately turned into 3D printed replicas. Yes, you can have your own action figure.
The replicas are extremely detailed and lifelike, as you can see on their website. A small replica (think Star Wars action figures) runs $95, a 10 inch version jumps to $395, and a GI Joe-sized replica will run you $695. Sounds a little expensive for an action figure, but the technology isn’t cheap. A booth uses 54 DSLRs, 54 lenses, a complex 3‑D modeling pipeline, and an $80,000 full-color 3‑D printer. That doesn’t even include the room-size scanning booth. Once your image had been captured and approved by you, you can expect to receive your 3D replica in a few weeks since they’re printed overseas and even the smallest version takes hours to produce. And of course there’s a queue.
One of the most popular uses for Doob’s product has become wedding cake toppers that are identical to the bride and groom. If you’re the ultimate self-absorbed person, you can even order a life-size model — though that can run up to $75,000. 3D printing technology is now being used for everything from making tools to building homes. Why not lifelike replicas of ourselves instead of boring old pictures?
Doob is one of the few companies currently bringing 3D printing technology to the consumer masses, which is a good thing. The technology holds immense promise for changing and improving the way we do and produce almost anything, but to date has mostly been more of a vague notion to most people. If 3D printing is one of the future-building technologies you’ve considered pursuing as a career, Doob might just be your entryway into that career.