December 25, 2012
Desktop Tardis Actually Bigger On The Inside Than The Outside
Like many television shows of its ilk, Dr. Who has a massive cult following. Which is to say, there is no such thing as a casual Dr. Who fan, just as there is no such thing as a Fair-Weather Lost fan or a Sometimes But Not Always Breaking Bad fan.
One such Dr. Who fan, former mobile editor of TechCrunch Greg Kumparak, found himself with a few hours to kill during the Thanksgiving break and did what any reasonable science fiction fan would do: Build a model dedicated to their favorite sci-fi franchise.
Thus, Mr. Kumparak’s wooden model Tardis was born.
For those who aren’t gigantic fans of the show, the Tardis (as it’s been explained by Mr. Kumparak) is a 1960s British Police box which is used by Dr. Who to travel through time. The finished product appears to be a very accurate and true to form Tardis– very professionally done with obvious care to detail. There’s even an LED light on top to add a bit of flair to the wooden model.
However, much like the real (fictional) Tardis as seen in the television show, Mr. Kumparak’s desktop model holds a very shocking surprise: It’s bigger on the inside than it is the outside.
“There’s a running gag in Doctor Who, wherein new characters are always dumbstruck by the TARDIS being bigger on the inside than it appeared on the outside,” writes the crafty Mr. Kumparak in his blog. “Once I realized I had a rough idea of how to pull that off, I couldn’t not do it.”
Using Blender, an open source 3D content creation suite, Mr. Kumparak began making a 3D model of what the inside of the Tardis looked like in the series between 2005 and 2010.
While the initial thought to make the inside larger than the outside may have been a passing whim, bringing this notion to life took a bit longer.
“I know plenty of people who used Blender for work each day,” writes Mr. Kumparak.
“It couldn’t be that tough, right? El. Oh. El.”
Working through what he calls a “massive learning curve,” Mr. Kumparak had finished his 3D model. Now all he needed was a way to put the virtual 3D model inside the tangible desktop model. For this, he looked to augmented reality.
“I had some experience using the truly fantastic Unity game engine along with Qualcomm’s Vuforia API, so I started there,” recalls Mr. Kumparak, adding some praise for the engine.
“Perfect choice. If you’re messing with AR stuff, I can’t recommend that combination of tools enough.”
He then added a very trippy piece of swirling black-and-white cloth reminiscent of a futuristic time warp. This was used as his marker and was placed just behind the front door of the Tardis.
With the front door removed and the marker visible, he then pointed his Android phone at the Tardis and voila. The AR reveals his 3D model inside of the Tardis which, as he promised, is actually larger on the inside than the outside.
While this little project shows what’s technologically possible whenever an industrious fan gets a wacky idea in their head, it’s also a testament to actually building things and how satisfactory they can be once completed. After all, it’s likely not many people decided to build something this cool with a few spare hours before devouring turkey and watching the football game.
Image Credit: Greg Kumparak