It's jarring to see someone's face casually splayed on a conference table like a stack of pamphlets.
Yet, there it was.
After a confused double-take, I realized what I was looking at that chilly January day at CES: an uncannily realistic, creepy-AF mask of some dude's face. Bellus 3D was to blame. And, weirdly, to congratulate.
The company makes a 3D face camera for mobile devices that scans your face in high res with crazy detail, an accomplishment. Once it's scanned, the company can send you a file that you can then send to a 3D printer to make into a mask.
And the masks that Bellus 3D was showing at CES 2017 were nothing like the wacky, cartoon-esque rubber masks infamously used to make fun of US presidents. These looked really, really real. If the masks looked any better, they would rival the the Hosts from Westworld.
The Bellus 3D folks say the infrared scanners on its camera read over 500,000 3D points on your face, and it's really simple to use. Once the camera is connected and the Bellus 3D app is launched, you position your head within an outlined parameter, stare straight ahead, turn to the left when prompted and then again to the right.
The scans, which are available to view shortly after, are impressively accurate with incredible detail. You can see and zoom in on every wrinkle, pore and hair follicle in full color (eek!). The uses for dermatologists, ophthalmologists and cosmetic surgeons are immediately apparent.
There's an eeriness knowing that you can make a lifelike replica of your own countenance. Like, what would you even do with it? Could it be used to steal your identity and rob a bank? Will this make catfishing even worse? Are we only a few years away from having the tools to make Westworld a reality? (As in the 1973 movie version, since the HBO TV series is more like year 2067 high-tech.) Is this the Upside Down? At the very least, it's good enough to trigger my Uncanny Valley reflex of super-creepiness.
But if making accurate 3D face masks sounds up your alley, you're kinda out of luck. The Bellus 3D face camera will be made available sometime in the first quarter of 2017, in limited quantity, to developers and partners only.