Dec.5, 2013

3D scanning aims to capture the geometry of the 3D world, however most existing solutions require a complicated setup. But here is an amazing stuff: The Computer vision and geometry Lab of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ) developed an app that turns your normal smartphone into a mobile 3D scanner.

Instead of taking a normal photograph, a user simply moves the phone around the object of interest and after a few motions, a 3D model appears on the screen. As the user keeps moving, additional images are recorded automatically and used to extend the 3D model. The nice thing is, as all calculations are performed directly on the phone, the user gets immediate feedback and can select additional viewpoints to cover missing parts of the 3D model. "This is an important advantage compared to solutions that batch process all the images in the cloud at a later time", explains Marc Pollefeys, professor at the Institute for Visual Computing.

Approach works in a wide variety of settings

The app also makes it possible to visualise the state of the 3D scan from different viewing angles, allowing the user to cover all the areas of the object he is interested in. Having a solution on a mobile phone enables the acquisition of 3D scans on-the-fly anywhere. The approach works in a wide variety of settings, including low-light conditi-ons such as inside a museum. A user can capture a 3D model of a museum piece and interactively study it at home later. After reviewing the model, a user might decide to upload his 3D data to a cloud service to further refine the results.

By using the inertial sensors of the phone, the scanning process can be made simple, intuitive and robust. After the 3D capture is started, the system automatically determines the correct moments to extract camera images based on the user motion. "Only two years ago, such a software only run on massive computers. We were able to shrink processes down on smartphone level and make them highly efficient", says Marc Pollefeys.

Increased interactivity for the user

Contrary to image-only 3D capture solutions the app is able to determine the absolute size of the scanned 3D object, as well as the vertical direction. Because of the complexity of the calculations needed to reconstruct hundreds of thousands of points, the graphics co-processor (GPU) of the phone is used to enable a faster reconstruction and increase interactivity for the user.

The technology also allows the 3D capture of faces, giving a third dimension to portraits, profile pictures or images of loved ones. Having a convenient way of getting 3D models of everyday objects, users will now be able to copy real-world objects by scanning a full 360 degree model of an object. The resulting 3D model can be used for visualisation or augmented reality applications, or even be used for 3D printing, potentially at a remote location, effectively enabling the user to replicate an object.

ETHZ demonstrated publicly their technology for the first time this week at the International Conference on Computer Vision in Sydney, Australia. The patent pending technology can run on a wide range of current smartphones.


Posted in 3D Scanning



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Fran at Mx wrote at 7/9/2015 1:51:08 PM:

They aren't planning a "general app". You can see more @

TomK wrote at 1/11/2015 7:54:26 AM:

Any update? it's 2015 now...

Gerf wrote at 9/2/2014 1:39:56 PM:

Where's the interaction , with the followers of these blogs, this app was written about last year so when is it going to be launched ? is it actually legitimate ? it looks really good and probably the first decent 3d app for the androids , please could you keep us informed

Rok wrote at 4/3/2014 9:49:40 PM:

when will it come ?

Ignasi wrote at 1/17/2014 12:16:00 PM:

Not available yet.

User wrote at 12/11/2013 4:53:21 PM:

Where can I download this?

Pompae wrote at 12/8/2013 12:02:44 AM:

Where is the demo download? Searched school's site with no luck. School stated one was available.

peter wrote at 12/6/2013 4:00:04 PM:

plus 1 .amazing tech .this would probably be the first app i'd pay for.

Baken from Kz wrote at 12/6/2013 5:23:10 AM:

When is it available in the appstore or Googleplay? Anyone knows?

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