3D Scanning With Your Smartphone
February 1, 2014

Using An App To Create 3D Images

Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

3D printing has grown in popularity, yet software to scan images in 3D remains somewhat limited - though that now seems to be changing. One solution that came into focus this week is free software from 3D Systems -- software it acquired from startup Viztu, which originally released the software in 2011.

Users are finally able to see Viztu's flagship web service, Hypr3D (renamed Cubify), which can generate digital 3D models from user-uploaded 2D digital photos and videos. Images can come from digital cameras, smartphones and webcams.

Viztu was formed by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), then spun out from the academic institution in 2011. It was acquired by 3D Systems Corporation in mid-2012 for an undisclosed sum and the 3D scanning solution went dark for a time while it underwent more development and integration into 3D Systems' offerings.

Now ready for its camera moment, Viztu's 3D scanning solution was profiled by MIT News.

By allowing users to take 2D images and render them into 3D objects, Viztu's solution makes it more accessible, ditching the need for expensive 3D scanning equipment. Where users with expensive 3D scanning equipment need to place an object in the scanning field, with Viztu's Hypr3D software, anything you can snap with a camera is within a scanning field.

"We gave people the easiest scanner available: the cameras they already owned," said Thomas Milnes, PhD, Viztu's chief technology officer, in an MIT News interview. Milnes graduated in the class of 2013, and developed the software behind Hypr3D as part of his MIT dissertation. "Now it only takes a smartphone or digital camera a few minutes online to build a 3D model and only a few moments more to send it off to be 3D printed."

The software originally saw a quick uptake in users. MIT reports that the software garnered thousands of users and tens of thousands of model views and downloads within a year of launching Hypr3D. The Hyper3D software also drew revenue from big-name clients contracting Viztu to tailor its technology for unique applications such as 3D filmmaking and 3D mapping. The software also won the grand prize in the "Innovative Web" category at South by Southwest -- all before it was acquired by 3D Systems.

More 3D modeling solutions have hit the market since Hypr3D first became available. Most notably, Adobe recently released 3D modeling capabilities for Photoshop.

3D Systems is working toward making 3D scanning easier and more accessible, but it is also working on advancing 3D printing technology. A recent post on the 3D Systems blog highlights that 3D printing was used to make the "Zero Step" shoes that will be worn by NFL players in the Super Bowl this Sunday.

While there are many applications for 3D printed items on the field, the future starts with learning. Teachers are working on ways to integrate 3D printing in the classroom. Schools will find accessible software such as Hypr3D useful as many school systems require funding for more costly solutions.