3D Scanners are getting more mobile as we speak. The Structure Scanner I reviewed recently can be attached to an iPhone 6 with a special case. And Matter and Form has developed a 3D Scanning add-on for Android and iOS smartphones—the Bevel—that will be available soon. And this summer, you can buy the first phone (allright, phablet) made by Lenovo with Google’s depth sensing technology—Project Tango—integrated.
It makes sense: we’re already capturing the world around us in 2D with our smartphone cameras while our dedicated devices lay in a drawer somewhere. So it’s natural that we want to capture 3D wherever and whenever we want and share it directly online.
But while depth sensors are indeed getting small enough to be pocketable soon, pure-software photogrammetry solutions that can generate 3D objects from regular 2D photos are getting smarter and faster, too. So I started asking myself:
do consumers actually need dedicated 3D capturing hardware on their phones if software can do the trick?
To test the current state of software-only mobile 3D scanning, I tested four different smartphone photogrammetry apps: 123D Catch, Trnio, Scann3D &
Seene on the same object under the same circumstances.
In the previous part of this review trilogy I tested 123D Catch. Autodesk’s combination of an easy-to-use mobile app to create reality captures and cloud service to manage them works great for many purposes. On top of that I was impressed by the results taken with my old Nexus 5 phone in everyday circumstances.
In this part I’ll focus on the next step up in Autodesk’s cloud-based “Photo to 3D”—or Photogrammetry—offerings: ReCap 360. Whereas 123D Catch is targeted at consumers, ReCap 360 is targeted at professionals. It has a few extra bells and whistles. Read on to find out if that means better results.
If you have any interest in 3D, you know Autodesk. The company is probably best known of its industry standard software Maya and 3ds Max, but also makes many, many more applications for creative technologists. Autodesk Animator was actually the first animation program I used back in the 1990s on my very first MS DOS computer (its 8-bit goodness makes me realize that we’re currently making a lot of trendy animated GIFs for our client’s online marketing at the animation studio I co-founded—nothing changed!). They also make nice mobile apps: I use Autodesk’s Pixlr app on a daily base to edit my mobile snapshots.
All three solutions can be used for Photogrammetry, a technique that uses a series of regular digital photographs to generate textured 3D objects. They’re all different interfaces that presumably use the same cloud-based 3D solving engine (using the Smart3DCapture technology licensed from Acute3D which is now owned by Bentley Systems).
I’ll take a look at them one by one, starting with the one that’s easiest to use for this first post: 123D Catch.
If you’re new to Reality Capture & Photogrammetry, this Review is also a great Tutorial for 123D Catch. Autodesk agrees:
This works well as a tutorial as well, thanks Nick! https://t.co/xoglguB4aX
— Autodesk 123D (@Autodesk123D) February 17, 2016