Back in August 2016 I wrote a post about upcoming, crowd-funded 3D scanning hardware for smartphones. One of them was a turntable for photogrammetry: Pixelio, which I’m pretty sure went out of business that same year. The other two are both 3D scanning solutions that use a laser line as the light source and the smartphone camera for capturing.
I reviewed Bevel — a $89 clip-on smartphone accessory aimed at making 3D selfies — last year and concluded that it didn’t work very well. I couldn’t imagine consumers paying that amount of money to carry around an extra device to make 3D selfies that don’t look flattering or sometimes horrifying. And while there is certainly potential in capturing 3D selfies, Sony showed at MWC 2018 that this can now be done without special 3D scanning hardware. I tested it and it works pretty well indeed.
But in this post I’m writing about the third solution on that 2016 list: EORA 3D. It also uses a laser for 3D scanning, but is aimed at scanning objects. And arguably also at a more professional audience.
In this post I’m diving into my experiences with EORA 3D to find out if dedicated 3D scanning hardware is still relevant now that smartphone 3D capture is moving towards software-only solutions.
Three weeks ago I posted that Bellus3D has brought their face scanning app to the iPhone X, using its internal depth sensor. I’ve yet to get my hands on an iPhone X to actually test that but I did receive the company’s external Face Camera Pro sensor that can similar face scanning abilities to Android smartphones and tablets.
Warning: since this is a basically a 3D selfie device, this posts will contain a lot of selfies of yours truly. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
So it’s 2018 and you’re looking for free photogrammetry software for your smartphone to take your first steps into 3D Reality Capture without paying a penny?
Well, the 3D Scan Expert hereby declares that you are out of luck. The world of mobile 3D capture is no longer free. Or is it? Read on and you might be surprised.
Dedicated 3D scanning hardware is getting more mobile as we speak. While Structure Sensor (Review), iSense (Review) and RealSense R200 (Review) and SR300 (Review) are still more tablet devices, recent and upcoming solutions like Google Tango, Bevel (Review) and Scandy Pro are meant to be embedded or clipped onto smartphones.
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 the question is if consumers actually need dedicated 3D capturing hardware for their phones if just software can do the trick?
Autodesk used to offer the popular and free 123D Catch for both Android and iOS that combined a good interface with a powerful cloud-processing feature but this app is has been discontinued.
Currently, if you’re an Android user you can take a look at SCANN3D (Review). But if you have an iPhone there’s also a nice app called TRNIO which used to be free when I first tested it but is now available for $0.99 in the App Store. Still pretty close to free, so let’s test it again. This time with some more examples.
The last time I took a look at SCANN3D was in the summer of 2016. Back then it was still in development, and free, so I made it part of my original post with Free 3D Scanning apps.
One and a half year later, the application (currently version 3.1) has seen a lot of developments and now offers both a Free and Paid Mode. Time for a dedicated Review post that goes into what it is, how it works and what it produces in terms of 3D scan quality.
The $89 Bevel is Matter and Form’s second product after their foldable desktop 3D Scanner from 2014. The Bevel promises to “turns your smartphone into a 3D Camera”. It was crowdfunded through Kickstarter in the summer of 2015. It was estimated to ship to backers in January 2016 but actually shipped in April 2017.
In on the original Kickstarter page, the manufacturer teases with this example:
This excited a lot of readers of this website. And judging the amount of readers of my 2016 preview post about 3 Affordable Smartphone 3D Scanners it still does. In that post I also wrote about the eora3D which is also a laser-based smartphone scanner that will probably come out this summer but is a fixed desktop (object) scanner while the Bevel is meant to be used hand-held.
Does the Bevel deliver on its promise?
The question of course is: does the Bevel deliver on its promise? I reached out to a reader of my blog that happens to live nearby and was a backer of the product on Kickstarter. He kindly lend me his Bevel for a few weeks so I could play with it. Thanks Victor!