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Texture 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 workflow.”

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 materials.

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 resource.

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 this software.

For more information contact:

Mike Chantler
0131 451 3352
Designed by Evolution Design