We love looking at images of ourselves. First there were Olan Mills portraits. Nowadays there are selfies and selfie-stick selfies and drone selfies.
f you’re wondering what comes next, Dusseldorf-based DOOB 3D thinks it has the answer—and contrary to what the company’s name suggests, it doesn’t involve getting high and watching Avatar.
DOOB 3D can produce a detailed, four-inch figurine of your body—yes, a 3-D selfie. Making one of these figurines requires a massive pile of hardware and software: 54 DSLRs, 54 lenses, a complex 3-D modeling pipeline, and an $80,000 full-color 3-D printer, not to mention a room-size scanning booth.
Factor that all in and the $95 asking price for a replica of yourself that’s roughly the size of most classic Star Wars action figures doesn’t seem so bad. A Barbie-esque 10-inch model goes for $395, while a 14-inch figure that’s more along the lines of an old-school G.I. Joe doll costs $695.
The company has four 3-D scanning booths (called “Doob-licators”) scattered in strategic locations throughout the world. There’s one in Dusseldorf, one in Tokyo, one at Santa Monica Place in Los Angeles, and one in New York City’s Chelsea Market. The company also says they’re set to add more U.S. locations soon, although details aren’t public yet.
In New York, the pop-up DOOB shop in Chelsea Market was a pretty big hit. According to Michael Anderson, CEO of DOOB 3D USA, the Doob-licator saw about 500 customers over the winter holiday season. About 10 percent of the booth’s customers got their pets Doob-licated.
“At first, (people got DOOBs made) mostly on a whim,” says Anderson of the holiday-season spike. Most people just walk up and stand in line, but you can also book an appointment in advance.
“Now that awareness has been built,” Anderson says, “there has been a shift where at least two thirds of our customers have planned ahead to get a DOOB.”
Each Doob-licator is outfitted with 54 Canon EOS Rebel T5i DSLRs, arranged in nine columns of six cameras each. You can make an appointment or just wait in line: A customer steps in, strikes a pose, and the Doob-licator operator fires all the cameras at once. That creates a full-body scan in a fraction of a second. The next step involves feeding all those 18-megapixel images through the company’s proprietary software, which creates a 3-D model of the subject.
The printing process requires more patience. The company operates three high-end 3-D printers to support its scanning operations: One in Germany, one in Tokyo, and one in Brooklyn. They all use 3D Systems’ ProJet 660Pro, a high-resolution (600 x 540 dpi) laser-sintering 3-D printer that creates full-color objects on the fly. The printer uses a resin polymer material, and the full range of CMYK color is added to each powder layer as it’s printed.
With a top printing speed of 1.1 inches per hour and a process that sometimes involves thousands of layers of powder, the process takes a few hours for the smallest-size DOOB and half a day or more for the larger ones. And depending on how many DOOBs are lined up in the queue, your mini statue takes between two and eight weeks to arrive in the mail.
Once you step inside that Doob-licator, it’s like international waters: You are largely unbound by laws and restrictions. Do you want to get naked? Go right ahead. Along with your nude statue, the company will also send you a 3-D PDF and keep your data in its database in case you want additional copies made (you can request that your data be deleted if that sounds too creepy).
DOOB 3D says it has done its fair share of nude scans, but it does draw the line at performing figurine plastic surgery. They’ll retouch large scars, but that’s about the only cosmetic procedure they’ll perform. They won’t trim your gut, fill in a bald spot, or augment what your mama gave you.
If you’ve got the loot (and the ego) you can request a life-size replica. The ProJet 660Pro is used for projects up to about three feet tall, so you’d be printed in smaller parts then assembled. Depending on how big the person is—and how many people are in the piece—a life-size statue can cost up to $75,000.
Purely in the interest of journalistic rigor, I got my own DOOB made for this story. I remained clothed. The scanning process took less than a minute, even when the technician did a couple of takes for safety’s sake. Immediately, I realized one benefit of booking an appointment in advance: You have time to think about what pose you want to do. Instead, I made a stupid face and flashed a Wingrove Mafia gang sign. I don’t know why, man, I just did. That’s what happens when you don’t prepare.
When the statue arrived in the mail a few weeks later, the process of opening the box, unwrapping it, and finding a miniature version of myself staring back at me was freaky. It was surreal and it was hilarious and it was eerie. The eyes are really the only things that didn’t look quite right—soulless and zombielike, which I guess is to be expected from an inanimate replica. Everything else was pretty much spot-on: The gracefully receding hairline, the wrinkles in my khakis, the outline of the wallet in my pants, the two-day stubble, the incredibly stupid look on my face. It looked like me, and with granular detail. Much more detail than you’d see in one of those old Starting Lineup action figures, and I’d say even more detail than those fancy, high-end McFarlane statues.
The DOOB itself is light and durable, but there’s a weak spot. Anderson actually warned me of it once I stepped out of the Doob-licator, and he was right. He said I might want to keep my fingers together during the scan, because they’re skinny and easy to break once they’re printed. Sure enough, one of my DOOB’s digits snapped off in my bag while I was transporting it to the office. So keep that in mind if you’re planning to do your own stupid gang sign or a one-finger salute. Now I know what I’d look like without a left pinky.
Actually, I know exactly what I’d look like without a left pinky.