Back in 2016, Occipital’s Structure Sensor was the second 3D scanner I ever reviewed. I liked it a lot back then and am still recommending it to people that want to step into the world of 3D scanning without spending thousands of dollars or hours of training – especially if they already own an iPad.
But since its release in 2013, a lot has changed in the world of low-cost 3D scanning. Photogrammetry has become popular and smartphone manufacturers like Sony and Samsung are demonstrating that sensor-less 3D scanning can be done in real time. And desktop 3D scanners like the $1199 EinScan SE (Review) have become more affordable and can create scans of small objects with a lot more details than any depth sensor can provide.
None of these technologies make 3D scanning of medium to large-sized objects, or people, as effortless as a depth sensor but there are also downsides to this technology. The first is that depth sensors generally offer limited depth resolution, resulting in 3D models without much geometric detail. The second is that the infrared technology in most depth sensors makes it hard to scan outdoors, greatly limiting the potential of 3D scanning with a tablet.
With the announcement of the Structure Sensor Mark II, Occipital aims to fix these issues: the depth resolution has been greatly improved from 640×480 to 1280×960 pixels. On top of this, the scan range has been improved. You can scan objects from a closer distance (0.3m vs 0.4m on the original Structure Sensor) to capture more details of medium-sized objects or people. The maximum range is now beyond 5m (up from 3.5m). In combination with the built-in wide-angle lens, this allows better scanning or large objects and rooms. And the built-in IMU (gyroscope and accelerometer) promises to make tracking even more robust.
But that’s not all. While the original Structure Sensor only worked well indoors, the Mark II also works in direct sunlight. This not only means you can scan immobile objects outdoors but it potentially also results in better texture quality without the need of a professional light setup.
All these improvements are housed in a 50% smaller device, making it even more compatible. Occipital offers dedicated brackets for various iPads: all iPad Pros, 5th and 6th gen iPad, 4th gen iPad mini & 2nd and 3rd gen iPad Air.
The Structure Sensor Mark II will cost $399 including bracket ($20 extra for a bracket for the 11” and 12.9” iPad Pros) and pre-orders are expected to ship late August. And if you’re the proud owner of an original Structure Sensor you can trade it in for a $100 discount. You can read all specs and pre-order the device here.
As with the original Structure Sensor, you can use it with the free Scanner iPad app by Occipital (Review) and you can also run Skanect (Review) on your PC or Mac and for wireless scanning from an iPad over WiFi. On top of that, the developer of the highly-recommended itSeez3D app (Review) has let me know that an update featuring Mark II compatibility is expected by the end of August.
It’s good to know that the Structure Sensor Mark II is very similar to Occipital’s Structure Core product. The main difference is that it’s compatible with iPads and that the sensor is fine-tuned towards the purpose of 3D scanning instead of tracking and computer vision. This is good news since I discovered that Intel’s RealSense D400 series of depth sensors (which can also capture in sunlight and has a version with wide-angle lens and built-in IMU) is clearly optimized for tracking and not 3D scanning out of the box.