These Photo Booths Create Actual Mini-Mes Using 3D Printing

published Feb 6, 2018
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(Image credit: Doob USA)

Forget Elf on a Shelf—now you can put yourself on a shelf. Doob is a company that has pioneered a new type of 3D selfie that creates a custom-printed figurine from a single photo booth session.

Surrealistic, Lilliputian versions of everyday people, Doobs are figurines created by booking a session in one of the company’s 360-degree photo booth storefronts, or “Dooblicators,” which are each outfitted with 56 DSLR cameras that capture their subjects from pretty much every angle and then turn them into 3D selfies.

“Getting doobed” takes two to three weeks to have your “mini-me” in hand — a lot longer than waiting for that Polaroid to develop — but for $95 you’ll have that exact 4″ to 14″ replica of you and yours to display on your mantle for posterity.

(Image credit: Doob USA)

According to Mashable, the five-year-old, Dusseldorf-based company originally developed its technology to scan cancer and stroke victims to be fitted for prosthetics. Now it’s being used to produce 3D selfies — or what WIRED magazine called the next generation of the Olan Mills portrait.

In a recent video with Mashable, CEO Michael Anderson explained exactly how Doob works:

“The process is called photogrammetry. We take the 54 images and process it through our proprietary software, which turns it into a 3D file, and we send it to our production center in Brooklyn where we do the 3D printing – a process that takes up to a day. It’s thousands of layers of powder that are laid down one by one, built up, glued together, and at the end you’re sort of reaching into this printer and sort of excavating out of this big white pile of powder these individual figures. From there we clean them off, do some post-processing, just make sure that they’re clean and they’re good. The color is included, it’s the only 3-D printer that does the entire range of CMYK printing right now.”

“Whether you consider them cute or creepy, they are perhaps the most currently relatable example of the much buzzed-about, yet perplexing, 3D printing,” says the New York Times.

(Image credit: Doob USA)

One obvious and adorable application would be for engaged couples to step into the “Dooblicator” and have a figurine made of themselves to use as a wedding cake topper — forever capturing for their shelf and later selves a 3D miniature of exactly how they looked at that joyful time in their lives, like this Instagram couple did. Or this expectant couple. Or this couple and their dog on Valentine’s Day. Or this woman who did a “tribute session” Doob for her senior dog. Or this “Meta Doob” — when you return to the store and step back into the “dooblicator” holding your mini-me, preferably while even wearing the same original outfit — created by Brooklyn pastry chef Ashley Holt of Sugar Monster Sweets.

A post shared by Ashley Holt (@sugar_monsterr) on

Back in 2015, when Doob first launched its first pop-up in New York’s Chelsea Market, WIRED contributor Tim Moynihan had this to say about the experience:

“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.”

Doob USA currently has stores in NYC (SoHo and the Upper East Side), Los Angeles, and San Francisco, with more cities coming soon — Kansas City is listed as next — with all of the 3-D printed figurines actually made in Doob’s production center in Brooklyn. And business is growing so rapidly the company plans to roughly double its store network this year. Instagram shows that Doob storefronts have also popped up internationally in far-flung locations such as Tehran and Tokyo (where Doob’s second headquarters is based).

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