A digital picture lets you preserve an image of something indefinitely, thanks to the resilience and longevity of digital data. Digitally preserving a whole object is an entirely different kettle o' fish, but the OrcaM reconstruction sphere makes the process fast, simple, and flawless.
The OrcaM Orbital Camera System will take any object placed into its maw and create a submillimeter accurate 3D model, complete with color, texture, and reflectivity maps. Seven individual cameras orbit around the sphere with the object inside it, taking simultaneous high resolution pictures while different combinations of projected light and shadow are used to help define object geometry. It's completely automatic, and when OrcaM is done taking pictures, you can pull the original out unharmed along with a perfectly rendered digital copy.
We'd like to think that at some point in the near future (perhaps within five years or so), reconstruction spheres will be commonplace along with sophisticated 3D printers. You'll be able to take just about any passive object down to your local duplication store, and have them scan it and print out another copy for you while you wait, with a digital model thrown in for good measure. It'll be fast, cheap, and easy, and you won't have to worry about breaking things or finding expensive replacement parts ever again.
Watch the OrcaM reconstruction sphere do some reconstructin' in the video below.