Smartphone app produces 3D scans

April 15, 2011
3D Scan

3D scans created on an iPhone and exported to graphics programs (credit: Odd Nydren)

An app developer at Georgia Tech’s College of Computing has created Trimensional, the first smartphone app that allows users to take 3D scans of faces or other objects and share them by email.

Trimensional works using an iPhone’s screen, for example, to shine four different lighting patterns on a subject while also using the front-facing camera to snap photos.  It produces a full 3D model that you can zoom into, pan around, and view from any angle. It works by taking every pixel and asking the same question using four different lighting conditions.

Using the latest update, users can can email animated videos of their 3D models. Advanced users can export their scans to programs in the form of OBJ, STL, or PLY files.  OBJ texture-mapped polygonal models are compatible with applications such as Maya and Blender.

“Once we get scanners in everyone’s hands, you should be able to use these images for any use you can think of: replicating physical objects by sending your scans to a 3D printer, or creating a perfect digital substitute to take your video calls when you’re not looking your best,” said app developer Grant Schindler. “Or you could put it on your World of Warcraft character, or use it in other games.”

The Trimensional app is currently available for the iPhone 4, iPad 2, and iPod Touch.  Schindler is working on a version for the Android operating system.