What is reality computing?

Reality computing is about digitally capturing physical information, creating physical experiences with digital information, and the computing activity that makes something useful in between.

Three simple ideas: Capture, Compute and Create.


Tools and techniques to build high-resolution digital representations of the world through both emerging technologies such as 3d reconstruction from ubiquitous mobile devices and through established methods such as laser scanning.


Computational tools to understand and transform reality data representing the world as it is, as it is imagined, or as it is intended to be, by simulating behavior, recognizing features in the data, and allowing the data to be morphed into new forms.


Tools to create an experience of digital information, such as augmented and virtual reality, digital fabrication equipment including 3D printing, and robotics.

Reality computing in practice

Real-world applications of reality computing technologies

Scanning Obama

The Smithsonian Institute and the University of Southern California’s Institute for Creative Technologies teamed up to capture a digital likeness of President Obama. Compared to the plaster masks made in the past, the digital scan is far more durable as well as significantly more comfortable for the subject to produce.

For more information: USC ICT, Smithsonian institute, YoutTube video

Wreck Modeling

Autodesk is undertaking a project to digitally map and preserve the shipwreck of the USS Arizona which was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Autodesk's survey is the most comprehensive survey ever done and the first survey done in over 30 years.

For more information: Autodesk blog, YouTube video

Shoe Fitting

Feetz.co uses photogrammetry software to produce accurate models of feet from photos. Custom modeling transforms a base shoe style model according to the scanned feet to produce a custom-fit shoe which is then 3d printed.

For more information: reality computing blog, feetz.co

Coral Monitoring

A group of scientists from The Hydrous institute are using ReCap 360 to convert corals into a 3D digital models. Models that they can use to monitor coral growth, physical impacts, disease, and bleaching.

For more information: Hydrous institute, Recap blog

For more examples:

Reality computing blog