Capture - Visually capturing texture in an instant
Anton Berg of IKEA Communications stated “IKEA
Communications AB needs to produce digital
texture data for thousands of products in
order to create photorealistic 3D models of
everything we sell in our stores. We looked
for commercial software for this purpose and
have tested a variety of 3D scanners but have
found nothing comparable to the Texture Lab
software provided by the team at Heriot-Watt.
This is of enormous benefit to us due to the
sheer scale of our 3D operations and we intend
to incorporate this system into our standard
IIKEA Communications AB is responsible for providing
the image content for the product catalogue and
the corresponding webpages of the global retailer.
Much of the imagery actually features rendered 3D
models of the products since this allows the literature
to be prepared well in advance i.e. before the season’s
new designs go into full production. Producing a
photorealistic version of each item of merchandise
in this way can be a time-consuming process and
requires precise attention to detail. Not only must
the designers and artists generate an accurate 3D
scale model but they also have to achieve a convincing
surface finish in a wide variety of materials.
IKEA Communications AB investigated commercially
available ways of facilitating this work such as
utilising 3D laser scanners but they were unable
to find a satisfactory solution. They subsequently
approached Heriot-Watt University’s Prof.
Mike Chantler of the School of Mathematics and Computer
Science, a specialist in the digitisation &
presentation of three dimensional surface texture.
The resulting collaboration has proved to be extremely
fruitful for both parties.
Mike’s research team at the James Watt Institute
for High Value Manufacturing instructed the 3D team
at IKEA Communications AB on what was required to
set up a photographic studio for the capture of
large scale texture subjects at high resolution.
A studio room was designed specifically for this
purpose (of dimensions 10m x 10m x 6m) and built
on the premises of IKEA Communications AB in Sweden.
In addition to the significant investment required
to construct this extension to their facilities,
the studio was also fitted out with professional
lighting equipment, a specialised high resolution
digital camera and powerful computers at significant
cost to IKEA Communications AB.
Once this ‘state of the art’ studio
was nearing completion, Mike’s researchers
adapted their software, which is based on algorithms
utilised and continually refined during a decade
of research, to enable it to handle much higher
levels of 3D image data.
Subsequently installed on the studio’s dedicated
computer, the adapted software suite has been put
through its paces with a wide variety of test subjects
and has been shown to perform extremely well. Indeed,
IKEA Communications AB are immensely impressed by
the ability of the system to produce accurate 3D
texture data at high resolution from wide expanses
of physical texture subjects in a matter of minutes.
They intend to incorporate this system into their
standard workflow for the production of photorealistic
3D models of their products and predict this will
have a huge impact on the ability of the 3D team
to generate excellent results and do so quickly.
Initially this will involve processing over five
hundred textile samples but the system will eventually
handle thousands of textures in a wide variety of
Future research conducted by the Texture Lab is
likely to benefit greatly from the huge numbers
of 3D texture digitised in this way as access to
these data will be provided by IKEA Communications
AB. The ability to obtain high resolution 3D textures
which correspond to large physical areas was outwith
the reach of the Texture Lab since its own facilities
are limited in size so this will be an invaluable
Finally, IKEA Communications AB think that this
software would be very well received by the 3D community
in general and have encouraged the Texture Lab’s
spin-out company, Totallytextures, to commercialise
For more information contact:
0131 451 3352