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New app can turn your smartphone into 3D scanner

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Washington: Creating instant 3D scans with your smartphone may soon be as quick and easy as texting or making a phone call, thanks to a new app developed by researchers, including one of Indian-origin. The app, called MobileFusion, by Microsoft Research can turn a smartphone into a 3D scanner, without requiring any extra hardware or Internet connection.

The scans are high-quality enough to be used for things like 3D printing and augmented reality video games, ‘Tech Times’ reported. “What this system effectively allows us to do is to take something similar to a picture, but it’s a full 3D object,” said Peter Ondruska, a PhD candidate at Oxford University who worked on the project while he was an intern at Microsoft Research.

“Everything happens on the phone itself,” added Pushmeet Kohli, a principal research scientist with Microsoft Research, who also worked on the project. Shahram Izadi, a Microsoft Research principal researcher, told ‘Tech Net’ that he imagines people using a tool like this to take a 3D scan of something they see on vacation, such as the Eiffel Tower, and immediately sharing it with friends or family.


According to the researchers, most mobile devices have become powerful enough that they could build a 3D-scanning system just using the computational power found on a regular mobile phone. “The great starting point was to take a sensor that everyone has in their pocket, which is the camera you have on your mobile phone,” Izadi said.

The researchers then developed an algorithm that allowed the camera to act as a 3D scanner, using a technique of taking multiple images that is similar to how the human eye works, Izadi explained.