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(Pocket-lint) - Family portraits have never been much to gawp at in most households. Unless your mum happens to be Sally Man or your cashes name tape happens to read Cartier-Bresson, your pretty much guaranteed to spend the whole of you childhood looking like a upright pink Zeppelin crammed into a tank top so hideous its pattern disrupts the spectrum of visible light.

While we can't do anything about the appearance of your family, and other animals, there is a new way to capture and remember them for posterity, involving glass and lasers. London based company, Immortaliz, have created a truly international partnership to bring the worlds first ever 3D photographic service to the metropolis.

The technology to ‘burn' 2D and 3D images into glass has been on the market now for a couple of years but Immortliz have jumped so far ahead, with their technology, as to leave competitors standing. What makes the Immortaliz system so special is a combination of the original Russian bourn technique, a Canadian imaging system to record and store the 3D images and some of Germany's most accurate ‘green-light' laser systems to get the image into the glass. The resulting hybrid, generates images of up to 124,000 individual points or the equivalent of 1.24 Megapixels.

The standard portrait service involves the subject sitting for a single image of their face to be recorded. Software then bends and manipulates the periphery of the image to produce a picture that covers the space of the skull and shoulders from just behind the ears round over the face and upper neck area. The trick is to leave the back of the cranium open so you can look into the back of the face and thanks to the optical illusion of looking into the inverse of a human face the image seems to follow you as you alter your vantage point. A closed head service is also available although this requires a more elaborate camera set-up and is thus more time consuming.

Once the image is captured and manipulated, a block of crystal glass is loaded in to the ‘burner' to be worked upon. The device contains 3 sets of lasers that move freely around the block of glass, in the X,Yand Z axis, focusing their micro-fine beams to create the 3D lattice of the image. The entire process takes about 20 minutes. Blocks are available from 0.5 Kg up to 9Kg, although limitations exist at the moment as to the size of a single image that can be burnt into the larger blocks. The 9Kg blocks are offered as a family album containing up to 10 faces. The service also includes a free CDR of your images so, like Boots, you can come back and get additional copies made anytime.


Overall, The portrait service is the tip of an iceberg that could very well revolutionize the creation of images from anatomical diagrams to architectural layouts. Watch this space, that 3D portrait of Auntie Edna could be the cornerstone of a brave new world.

The portrait service is available at Hamleys toy shop and the URL: http://www.immortaliz.co.uk

Writing by Charlie Brewer. Originally published on 18 May 2004.