Is this Christmas card real or virtual? We can’t tell

[Of course it’s already virtual because it’s a video (!), but this short DesignTAXI story describes an impressive (and eerie) 1:21 minute demonstration that illustrates how well a 3D scan of a physical object can mimic the object itself. The video is available in the original story or via Vimeo. See the M-XR website, particularly the Projects page, for more information (if you want to get your own object scanned, see the Technology page). –Matthew]

Is This Christmas Card Real Or Virtual? We Can’t Tell

By Mikelle Leow
December 22, 2021

An incredible digital project will change everything you know about holiday e-cards, merging the boundaries between what’s real and fabricated.

From virtual plots of land worth millions to artwork you splurge on that you can see but can’t touch, this has been the year where belongings aren’t just bound to the physical world—so it’s fitting that the holidays arrive on the same surreal high, one that’s infused with mixed reality.

This video by up-and-coming 3D production company M—XR features a handmade Christmas card that magically gets converted into an ultra-realistic 3D model somewhere along the line.

After decorating the card, the firm’s founder Ryan Howell rests it on a platform, which turns out to be its 3D object scanner. The device discreetly transforms it into a 3D asset, and the viewer gets an up-close look at the profoundly intricate textures of the virtual version.

The clip demonstrates the ability of the London company’s 3D proprietary scanner to take real-world objects and digitize them instantly. “This 3D asset had no manual intervention from a 3D artist, the results are fully automated,” Howell explains.

“The ability to ‘import’ real-life objects into virtual experiences opens up fascinating opportunities,” says Martin Harbech, Group Director at Meta, who shared the video online. “The lines between physical and virtual are blurring, fast,” Harbech adds.

According to the M—XR website, customers can get a similarly realistic effect from any object they wish to convert into 3D by sending the item to the firm, which will capture it using its system and generate it into a 3D model within 24 hours. The service isn’t open to the public yet, but the company’s founder says “more exciting announcements” are to be expected in the new year.

We’re no longer in what they call the Uncanny Valley. As Freddie Mercury (or David After Dentist) would ask: Is this the real life?

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