Recent press releases by NASA show how the agency is realizing the advantages of using Structured Light for 3D vision.
A recent NASA Invention of the Year was a hand-held, battery-operated scanner that they use to create surface maps of shuttle tile damage.
The same high-speed 3D scanner technology can also be used for longer range 3D measurements. NASA is investigating using this method for Rover Navigation and in-flight shuttle inspection with a system mounted on the robotic arm.
DMC has experience using the structured light approach for 3D vision applications. In one application we created a low-cost system for measuring parcel size using a stationary camera and movable laser line to scan the field of view. We performed all of the calculations on an embedded PC running Linux. Another application applies the Sick Ranger, an off-the-shelf 3D camera that uses the structured light principal, to measure dimensions of an aerospace part.