How to turn a Microsoft Surface into an item scanner
We used a 3D printer and a $2 mirror to create a reliable membership identification system four our little museum. You can use this setup to scan any color/shape lying in front of a Microsoft Surface.
Firstly, we designed a holder for a 6x6 cm mirror and 3D-printed it. We designed the shape to work with any conventional 3D-printer.
Then we slid the mirror inside the holder. We used a simple make-up mirror for this. If you can not find a mirror of this size, you can adapt the holder's geometry in a 3D application. Yet do not go smaller than 6x6 cm, as the view would be cropped.
- Snap it on
Attach the holder onto the computer. Our holder is specifically designed for Microsoft's Surface. It might also work with other computers, but keep in mind that it needs a back camera in order to work (one of the many great features of the Surface).
- Create a physical token
Now the fun part. Design a physical item that serves as an unique identifier. We went for punch cards since this suits us as Museum of Digital Art, is easy to make and fits in every wallet.
Write some funky code to identify the thing that the camera needs to catch. We had the luck to call magnificent Greenliff our partner who could do that in a breeze! But if you are not that fortunate do not worry, there are great libraries like tracking.js which can help out a lot.
- Connect to database
Once that is done, connect the system to your database so it knows when there is a match. In our case, we use Microsoft's cloud computing platform Azure to keep our member's data secure. As a non-profit you can apply for an annual grant of $5000. It did not take us more than twenty minutes to go through the application process.
And that's it! Hope you let us know how you use this little tutorial to make your very own system. It did make our life significantly smoother.
Big up to our lovely partners Microsoft and Greenliff for the help, we can't thank you enough!