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RealityScan and Epic Games turn iPhones into 3D scanners

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Image: Epic Games

With RealityScan, physical objects can be transformed into 3D models. The smartphone app is available free of charge for iOS.

RealityScan entered a limited beta phase in April and is now officially available for iOS. An Android version will follow in 2023.

RealityScan uses the process of photogrammetry to turn physical objects into faithful 3D models made of bits and bytes. In the first step, a user photographs the object from different angles. Then, the program stitches the images together into a detailed 3D model including texture. An integrated cloud solution assists with data processing.

Once the process is complete, the digital counterpart can be uploaded to the Sketchfab 3D model library. From there, it can be shared or further processed in other 3D programs.

3D scanning is becoming easier and easier

3D scanning apps of this type have been around for quite some time. One of the advantages of RealityScan is that using the app is relatively easy and does not require any special sensors. RealityScan takes users by the hand and guides them through the steps.

An augmented reality view illustrates from which angles the object was photographed, and a 3D point cloud indicates which areas of the physical object have not yet been sufficiently imaged. A preview lets you check and crop the 3D scan before uploading it to Sketchfab. Epic Games shows how to achieve optimal results in a tutorial video (see below).

RealityScan is aimed at professional designers working in 3D, VR and AR. However, due to its ease of use, the app is also suitable for non-professionals. If you own a Meta Quest 2 (review), you can bring your own 3D models into your own home and view them up close with the mixed reality app Figmin XR (review).

Epic Games prepares for the 3D age

Slavak studio Capturing Reality developed RealityScan prior to a 2021 acquisition by Epic Games. It became known for its photogrammetry software RealityCapture for Windows PCs, whose technology went into RealityScan. Epic Games also owns the 3D model library Sketchfab. Anyone who uploads a 3D model to Sketchfab via RealityScan gets free access to Sketchfab Pro for a year, which normally costs $180.

From simple 3D model creation with RealityScan to seamless uploading and sharing via Sketchfab, to further processing in Unreal Engine, the company now offers its own solution and platform for large parts of the 3D value chain. That's likely to more than pay off in the coming VR and AR era.

Epic Games says it has "big plans for the future of RealityScan, which include many new features and improvements" as well as an Android version coming in 2023.

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