Trimensional app turns the iPhone into a 3D scanner


May 18, 2011

Trimensional is a new app that allows an iPhone 4 to work as a 3D scanner

Trimensional is a new app that allows an iPhone 4 to work as a 3D scanner

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Grant Schindler, a computer scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has created what is admittedly a pretty cool iPhone 4 app. It's called Trimensional, and it allows your phone to act as a 3D scanner. While you could use it to obtain a three-dimensional frontal image of pretty much any object, if the product's website is anything to go by, users' faces seem to be a particularly popular subject.

To use Trimensional, you go into a room and turn out the lights (the darker, the better), turn the brightness all the way up on the phone's screen, put the phone within 20 centimeters (8 inches) of the object you wish to scan, then hit "capture." The phone will proceed to take four photos, each one lit from a different angle - even though the phone itself is held still. The software will then combine those four photos into one 3D image.

Besides just rotating the image back and forth on your iPhone's screen, you can also save and post it as a jpeg, animated GIF, or looped QuickTime movie, or export it into any number of graphics programs. More intriguingly, should you have access to a 3D printer, you can also create a physical model of the image.

Trimensional is clearly intended to be mostly a fun/artsy app, although it can undoubtedly be put to practical use in some situations. Considering that prices for dedicated 3D scanners start at around US$3,000, a 99-cent program - even if you have to buy a $500 iPhone to go with it - is definitely a decent deal, if it suits your purposes.

The app also works on the iPad 2 Wi-Fi and 4th generation iPod touch, and is available through iTunes. You can watch Schindler putting it through its paces in the video below.

Source: New Scientist

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

That is frighteningly awesome!


Wow. So you don't move the phone, and the backside phone camera only has a single tiny flash on it which couldn't give light from several angles - so I assume it's actually using the front facing camera and providing light from different areas of the screen to get different angles of light?


@Seekmocha... that's exactly how it works... there are four areas that light up on the screen to capture the image and it uses the front-facing camera

Jimmy Louis
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