Friday, February 1, 2013

Pez head

Pez is more than just candy. That's right. It's "interactive candy" that is both enjoyable to eat and fun to play with. And that's partly because dispensers with new characters on them are introduced regularly.

But there are some Pez candy dispensers that you won't be able to buy in any of the supermarkets, mass merchandisers, variety stores, drug stores, convenience stores, toy chains and gift stores that sell them throughout the US and Canada.

That's because the heads on these particular dispensers have been custom built by folks working for the rather oddly named company, the 'Hot Pop Factory' as holiday gifts for the employees of one of their clients.

To do just that, the chaps at the Hot Pop Factory first scanned all 32 of the employees' heads in 3-D using the Microsoft Kinect camera. Astoundingly, they convinced everyone to allow them digitize their heads for "a mysterious research project", despite a lot of protesting.

After the digital 3-D models of the subjects were generated, the scans were patched up with MeshMixer, a free software tool that can be used to make 3-D models.

After some more modeling work to add a connection from the heads to the candy dispensers, they were ready to print.  And many hours of printing later, the Hot Pop Factory had produced the 32 custom built heads that were then ready to install on the candy dispensers after the existing ones had been removed.

From the reaction of the individuals who received their holiday Pez dispensers, it would appear that the whole exercise was a huge success.

However, I hope that my own publishing company doesn't decide to reward our staff with similar custom-built Pez dispensers this coming holiday season. Having just returned from hours in the dentist's chair having root canal treatment, I can't say the thought of eating any Pez candy seems like such a sweet idea at the present time.

You can watch a video of the Kinect in action here.

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