A TRNIO scan by Kasimir Szekeres.

Thinking about buying a 3D scanner? You may already have what you need in your pocket.

Smartphones could emerge as a viable platform for quick scanning, which would spawn all sorts of 3D snapshots and Instagram-like 3D exchanges.

Autodesk’s 123D Catch is already available, of course, but some new entrants could dramatically expand the ecosystem.

A liberating constant: all these apps crunch the 3D data in the cloud, which takes a lot of processing pressure off the phone.

One new smartphone app is available now: TRNIO, a free iOS app. The blog Fabaloo gave it a test drive. They said it worked “pretty well,” but what really excited them was the idea of “always having a 3D scanner in our pockets.”

On the horizon: Replica Labs is prepping Rendor, a 3D scanner app that runs on your smartphone (iOS and Android) for a late summer release. Rendor combines the app with a printable grid, below, that helps the object pop better into 3D space.


The mysterious IHTFP Labs is also working on a smartphone 3D scanner. ihtfp

All we know so far is from the company website: “We are a team of MIT machine vision scientists and proven entrepreneurs, with more than 20 years of experience in the field. We want to democratize the 3D scanning process by turning your smartphone into a 3D scanner.”

So there are now two to try out (123D Catch and TRNIO), and two to watch.

BTW, if you’re willing to move up to a slightly bigger pocket, 3D System’s new iSense iPad tablet scanner is now available for pre-order for $499, for delivery in “the second half of July.”


The iSense tablet scanner, available… around now.

DC Denison

DC Denison

DC Denison is the editor of The Maker Pro Newsletter, which covers the intersection of makers and business. That means hardware startups, new products, and market trends.

The former technology editor of The Boston Globe, DC is also interested in ebook experimentation and content management systems.

One of the places where can be found online is Google+ (which I’m adding here only because I want to see if by adding “rel=author” and “rel=me” to those two links I can get Google to display my picture in its search results.)

Hey, it works!

  • lairdp

    To give credit where it’s due, 3D Systems doesn’t make the “iSense”, they just re-badging the Structure.io sensor, an existing, highly successful Kickstarter. So you should probably go talk with Structure.io about their (quite good) 3d scanner.