Startup Twindom to sell 3-D figurines of students at graduation

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Courtesy of what may seem to be an experimental and outlandish 3-D printing process, graduating seniors can now commercially order life-like miniature replicas of themselves as commemorative keepsakes.

A local startup called Twindom that was founded in 2013 by three UC Berkeley alumni — David Pastewka, Will Drevno and Richard Berwick — uses advanced multidimensional printing and scanning to offer customers the opportunity to create 3-D renditions of themselves in the medium of tabletop figurines.

The company recently expanded from its traditional cake-topper and family print repertoire to include graduation figurines and appeared at UC Berkeley’s 2014 graduation fair. Twindom has also struck a deal with the campus to allow the company to be at graduation selling its 3-D prints.

“We see this as the future of the photograph,” Berwick said.

The company evolved from Dreambox, which was introduced by the founders and alumnus Pavan Ravipati in spring 2013 as the first widely accessible 3-D printer on campus and offered affordable printing to students.

The process of creating a 3-D image begins either by taking many high-resolution photographs or by using a camera with a depth sensor of the object that will be printed. This only takes a few minutes. The printer then reads data from the scan to construct a multidimensional replica that consists of thinly layered sheets of plastic.

Both Berwick and Drevno think the scanning technology will progress to mobile phones in a few years when devices may have the ability to capture 3-D renderings.

“We’re looking forward to a world where capture is very easy,” Berwick said. “Twindom can be the platform where you create, maintain and modify your 3-D image.”

Twindom came into accidental existence last year when the founders were toying with the printer’s scanning abilities and decided to try scanning people for fun. Four hours later, their creations garnered $1,000 in revenue.

“That was kind of a turning point where we said, ‘This is a product where we actually have people really excited, everyone’s willing to spend money,’ ” Berwick said.

However, UC Berkeley senior Libby Udelson was lukewarm toward the idea of purchasing a miniature version of herself.

“If it was funny enough, I would maybe buy it depending on the price or something to give to a friend or parent,” Udelson said. “But I don’t think I would spend money on it because I don’t even like getting portraits of myself — let alone a figurine.”

Ultimately, the company plans to develop a product with which customers can insert scans of themselves into whatever virtual environment they want and interact with other users.

“You could put yourself into ‘Dora the Explorer’ and watch your kid follow through the adventures,” Drevno said. “Maybe someday (you could) go to Amazon and see how you look in a certain clothing item.”

Contact Zoe Kleinfeld at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @zoekleinfeld.