While recent imaging techniques provide insights into biological processes from the molecular to the cellular scale, phenotypes at larger scales remain poorly amenable to quantitative analyses. For example, investigations of the biophysical mechanisms generating skin morphological complexity and diversity would greatly benefit from 3D geometry and colour-texture reconstructions. Here, we report on R(2)OBBIE-3D, an integrated system that combines a robotic arm, a high-resolution digital colour camera, an illumination basket of high-intensity light-emitting diodes and state-of-the-art 3D-reconstruction approaches. We demonstrate that R(2)OBBIE generates accurate 3D models of biological objects between 1 and 100 cm, makes multiview photometric stereo scanning possible in practical processing times, and enables the capture of colour-texture and geometric resolutions better than 15 μm without the use of magnifying lenses. R(2)OBBIE has the potential to greatly improve quantitative analyses of phenotypes in addition to providing multiple new applications in, e.g., biomedical science.
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