As a research group, we firmly believe that science is best when it is open. Whenever our research questions require new tools, we make an effort to develop these tools such that they can also be used by others. This includes sharing code, technical drawings, print files, documentation and much more – have a look at some of our projects below, and get in touch if you want to contribute, or have any questions about using these tools in your own work!
scAnt is an open-source platform for the creation of digital 3D models of arthropods (and other small objects). It consists of a scanner and a Graphical User Interface (GUI), and enables the automated generation of multi-view Extended Depth Of Field (EDOF) images. These images are then masked with a novel automatic routine which combines random forest-based edge-detection, adaptive thresholding, and connected component labelling. The masked images can then be processed further with a photogrammetry software package of choice, including open-source options such as Meshroom, to create high-quality, textured 3D models. As a result of the exclusive reliance on generic hardware components, rapid prototyping, and open-source software, scAnt costs only a fraction of available comparable systems. The resulting accessibility of scAnt will (i) drive the development of novel and powerful methods for machine learning-driven behavioural studies, leveraging synthetic data; (ii) increase accuracy in comparative morphometric studies as well as extend the available parameter space with area and volume measurements; (iii) inspire novel forms of outreach; and (iv) aid in the digitisation efforts currently underway in several major natural history collections.