Important Update with information regarding (discounted) iSense devices!
Last update: 28 February 2017
- There are currently great discounts on the iSense on Amazon. As low as $73 including an iPad bracket. The offers ship to US addresses only.
- If you’re not in the US, there are also a lot of discounted iSense 3D scanners on eBay with international shipping.
- Discounted iSense 3D Scanners might not be compatible with Structure Sensor SDK and apps made by Occipital.
- All iSense — wether bought at a discount or earlier for full price — devices cannot be updated to the latest Structure Sensor 2.0 or newer firmware. This update improves room scanning but won’t noticeably improve 3D scanning of objects and people.
- Occipital has an Exchange Program to swap your iSense for a future-proof Structure Sensor $100 discount.
- It’s not totally clear if discounted iSense devices that are not supported by Occipital will work with the itSeez3D 3D scanning app or not.
Discounted iSense 3D Scanners
Before diving into the details, these are the discount deals I’m getting so many questions about:
On Amazon.com (ships to US only)
The iSense is also available with an iPhone 6 and iPhone 6+ bracket, but that one isn’t discounted as much.
On eBay (Ships Internationally)
I got quite a few questions from people outside the US that want to get an iSense at a discount and discovered that the Amazon deals won’t ship internationally. Luckily there are many iSense deals on eBay as well that do offer international shipping.
* The iPad Air 2 bracket also fits onto the iPad Pro 9.7″.
** The sensor requires at least an iPad mini 2 (a.k.a. iPad mini with Retina Display). The original iPad mini is not compatible.
This post is based on the information I have gathered at the moment of writing. This information and the actual Hardware and/or Software support might change in the future. 3D Scan Expert is not responsible for any choices you make regarding purchases and the compatibility of and between hardware and software — now and in the future — and doesn’t offer support. Contact the seller, manufacturer or developer before purchasing. Email addresses for support are listed below.
To be able to answer the many questions I get about this subject better, I decided to buy an iSense on eBay. It just arrived and I’ll report soon. Stay tuned.
Update 28 February 2017
I received my iSense ($58 via eBay) and put it to the test and compare it to my Structure Sensor. I made example scans with both devices with the iSense App, the Structure App, itSeez3D and Skanect. I put the results in a separate post to keep things tidy.
I strongly advice you to also read all information below before making purchasing decisions.
What is the Difference Between iSense and Structure Sensor?
- The iSense comes in a dark gray color and has a 3D Systems logo on the front.
- The Structure Sensor comes in either silver or blue an has no logo on the front.
- If you take part in the iSense-to-Structure-Sensor Exchange Program, you will get a dark grey Structure Sensor.
- The iSense was originally manufactured by Occipital for 3D Systems.
- Occipital still actively manufacturers the Structure Sensor.
Sales and Support
- The iSense was sold an supported by 3D Systems, but has been discontinued in 2016.
- The Structure Sensor is still actively being developed, updated and supported.
- Occipital has chosen to take over support for iSenses from 3D Systems — but only for devices that were purchased directly from 3D Systems or their official resellers (which Amazon and eBay sellers might not be). These “legitametely purchased” devices are either “unlocked” already or can be unlocked by sending an email with serial number and invoice to Occipital support.
- iSense App: All iSense devices can be used with the iSense iOS app from 3D Systems that works on compatible iPads and iPhones, for calibration and 3D scanning.
- Occipital Apps & Skanect: The Structure Sensor — and “unlocked” iSense devices (see above) — will also work with the Occipital Structure Sensor SDK and first party apps. These apps include the ones I covered in my Review: Calibrator app, the Sample App for 3D Scanning and the Room Scanning app — and the new Canvas app. It also included Skanect, which requires the Structure Sensor app for the wireless uplink feature.
- itSeez3D: This app is — in my opinion (review) — the best 3D scanning app for iPad and according to their FAQ they support both Structure Sensor and iSense. This third party app is stand-alone doesn’t require any other apps for calibration or otherwise installed.I reached out to the developer to check if they can confirm if their app works with every iSense regardless of how it was purchased and they aren’t totally sure about this. For questions regarding this, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org stating the app version (see settings page in the itSeez3D app), serial number and firmware version (see sensor page in the itSeez3D app) of your iSense and a description of your problem.Update 9 February 2017: I got one confirmation of a reader that bought an discounted iSense on eBay (this item) and has no problems with using it with itSeez3D. I purchased one myself out of curiosity and report back when it has arrived. I got another confirmation from a non-US reader that bought one on Amazon — sold by Amazon Export Sales LCC — that didn’t work with itSeez3D.
- The iSense — whether it’s unlocked or not! — will not be updated in the future and will stay at the current firmware version. It cannot be updated to the latest 2.0 firmware. According to Occipital, this is because of physical differences.
- The Structure Sensor can be updated to the 2.0 firmware and will benefit from future updates.
- The 2.0 firmware update features various improvements but Occipital has let me know directly that “some changes were [to the Structure Sensor] made on the production line specific to large environment scanning, which are taken advantage of in [the room measurement app] Canvas but won’t affect object scanning as much. So be careful when using iSense with the Canvas app, as you likely won’t get optimal accuracy.” Of course, no one know what future firmware improvements might bring.
- The iSense is officially compatible with iPhone 6, iPhone 6+, iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini with Retina display (a.k.a. iPad mini 2) or iPad with Retina display (a.k.a. 4th generation). The iPad mini 3 is not in the official list but I guess it’s compatible with that and the bracket is the same size as that of the iPad mini 2. There’s no iPad mini 4 bracket, but it fits on a Structure Sensor bracket for that device. The iPad Air 2 case fits on an iPad Pro 9.7″. There’s no iPad Pro 12.9″ bracket, but you can use the one for the Structure Sensor.
- The Stucture Sensor is officially compatible with iPad Air, iPad Air 2, iPad mini with Retina display (a.k.a. iPad mini 2) or iPad with Retina display (a.k.a. 4th generation), iPad Pro 9.7″ and iPad Pro 12.9″. The compatible iPads have dedicated brackets. It’s also compatible with iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, but you’ll need to buy a 3D printed bracket from Shapeways or make your own.
- The itSeez3D app supports the same iPads mentioned above but there is no iPhone version at the time of writing.
Wide Angle Lens Compatibility
- There’s a Wide Angle Lens available for $39. I haven’t tested it yet, but it should improve tracking when color tracking (RGBD) is enabled. Keep in mind that this can only be attached to the brackets for iPad Air 2, iPad mini 4 and iPad Pro.
- When the Wide Angle Lens is attached, you should re-calibrate the Structure Sensor using a printed checkerboard pattern.
- I’m not sure, but I think the Wide Angle Lens is not supported by the iSense app.
- itSeez3D doesn’t support the Wide Angle Lens.
Why does Occipital support only some iSense devices?
Readers of this website have let me know that both 3D Systems and Occipital have confirmed that some (if not all) discounted iSense devices were acquired by Amazon and eBay sellers in bulk as part of a stock liquidation when 3D Systems discontinued the sale of the iSense. In accordance to this post by Occipital, devices purchased from such liquidation sales cannot be “unlocked” to make them compatible with Stucture Sensor apps. This can only be done with iSense devices bought directly from 3D Systems or its official resellers.
I think it’s impossible for customers to know this in advance, since they’ll only find that post (or the one you’re reading now) afterwards. Even I discovered it after writing the original post. But it is what it is.
Whats your advice, should I get an iSense or not?
First things first: If you don’t care about the discounts, I’ll advice you to get a 100% guaranteed compatible, future-proof Occipital Structure Sensor with iPad Air 2 bracket for $379 on Amazon. If you have a different iPad you can order one with matching bracket here.
If the discount is important for your budget or because you’re just experimenting, think about how you plan to use it. If the iSense app is good enough (I’ll test it soon to give you insight in this) then all is fine. If you want it to work with Structure Sensor SDK and Apps or itSeez3D, you might get lucky — or not.
Maybe you can try to contact the seller of a discounted iSense to acquire the serial number and send that to email@example.com to see if it’s supported or not. You can also find a seller with a good return policy.
Honestly, some of these iSense deals are so cheap that a sensor and bracket bundle is close to the price of just the bracket (which is $49 + shipping from Occipital directly or €62,50 + shipping from an official EU reseller). So if you’ve bad luck and buy an iSense that Occipital won’t support, you either stick with the iSense app or swap your iSense for a Structure Sensor with $100 discount through the Exchange Program. I’m not sure if that deal is attractive for non-US customers because of the shipping costs and customs charges. I’ll let that math up to you. You can always throw the iSense away and get a Structure Sensor.
In the end it’s up to you. Please read the disclaimer earlier in this post before purchasing anything.
iSense – Structure Sensor Exchange Program
$100 Discount if you already bought an iSense and want a Structure Sensor
I’ve been in close contact with Occipital about the iSense/Structure Sensor issue and as of January 30th they started an official exchange program for the iSense that includes a $100 discount on an official, future-proof Structure Sensor that does work with all apps and will benefit from all firmware updates.
This sensor will come in the same Dark Grey color as the iSense. Structure Sensors normally come in either Silver or Blue, so you’ll even have a Special Edition.
Here are the exact details:
Adam from Occipital here.
We wanted to make it easier for everyone to get a hold of a recent Structure Sensor so you’ll get all the updates and not need to worry about any issues related to firmware versions or whether your sensor is supported in Calibrator.
To make it easier to justify an upgrade, as of today, iSense owners can contact us and request to trade in their old iSense for a new Structure Sensor. Even though brand new iSenses are sometimes available for as low as $60 on eBay and amazon.com, we’ll offer a $100 credit towards a new Structure Sensor when you send in your old iSense to us in exchange for a Dark Grey Structure Sensor.
That means that you can get a future-proof, fully upgraded Structure Sensor for $249.
Here’s what to do:
1. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the serial number of your iSense (you’ll find it on the bottom cover of the iSense)
2. We’ll give you an RMA and the address to which you can send your old iSense, along with a 1-time coupon code to get $100 off a dark grey Structure Sensor.
3. Use the code we provided to purchase a Dark Grey Structure Sensor for $249.
4. When you receive your Structure Sensor, simply put your iSense in the shipping box and send it back to us within a week. (We’re trusting that you will ship the iSense to us, but if we don’t receive your iSense within 2 weeks, we’ll charge your card the $100 difference.)
– This offer only applies if exchanging for a Dark Grey Structure Sensor.
– Make sure to remove your iSense from its bracket before returning it, as you will need your bracket when your new Structure Sensor arrives.
Any questions? Just email us at the above address, and we’ll be happy to answer them.
– Adam and the Occipital Team