Researchers at ETH Zurich have developed an app that can effectively turn a smartphone into a scanning device to produce 3D models of real world objects. The application uses a smartphone’s camera to capture an image of an object and produces a 3D model on the fly using a smartphone’s internal capabilities instead of offloading the data to a computer for later compilation. Users start by capturing an image of the object they want to model. As a user continues to capture images, moving the smartphone around an object, the app continues to capture data points. Using a smartphone’s GPU, the app is able to start building a 3D model in real-time and a user can watch development of the model if they want. The level of detail is dependent on how long a user is willing to continue to scan an object.
In a video showing how the app works, ETH Zurich demonstrates the building of 3D models of artwork, small items, and even human heads and faces. As they note, the resulting model could be used in conjunction with a 3D printer to replicate an object. Of course, I’m thinking Mission Impossible type mask production. More practically, it could be used to study an object at a later time, say for students who visit an art museum and later need to prepare a report.
You can check out the video below to see how the app works. Unfortunately, ETH Zurich has not released the app to the public yet. What could you accomplish with an app like this?