Smartphone Cameras Turned Into 3D Scanners Capture Objects For Animation

Smartphone Cameras Turned Into 3D Scanners Capture Objects For Animation

A 3D-scanning app avoids the prohibitive costs of getting an actual scanner with much of the same functionality.

Rachel Pincus
  • 30 june 2014

Are you ready to start making 3D renderings through your smartphone or tablet? Make way for Rendor, a 3D scanner that works using the camera on those very devices. By putting a specially printed grid around an object and panning around it with your video camera, you can create your own digitized version of a real-life object, ripe for manipulation and animation.


The app, which is just in beta but can be tested upon request, was developed by Replica Labs, a startup that was founded in November. According to an interview with co-founder Isaac Roberts at, the company started with a simple idea: if you can generate lifelike 3D characters for video games out of completely abstract principles, then there’s no reason why the same logic might not be used for real-world objects, mapping textures and shapes onto polygon-based surfaces.


Rendor uses sophisticated new technologies like machine vision to generate its objects.

“Because the app works with GPGPU processing [using a graphics processor to complete CPU tasks], the complete time to render is super fast,” said developer Vincent Mamo to PSFK. “Second, we’re aiming to compete in the field of precision too…. We’re implementing some cutting edge algorithms that really take advantage of the new, and powerful, parallel processing power that is becoming popular on many handheld devices.”

According to, 3D scanners currently cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, and they’ve mostly been slaves to similarly expensive 3D printers. Thus far the lack of a use for such an item has led to slow growth in the 3D scanner market. Contrary to the conventional thinking with practically any kind of media-making device, Replica Labs believes that 3D scanning needs a starting push through democratization instead of requiring people and businesses to buy more expensive equipment.

So how will this idea monetize? Instead of expecting customers to make a huge and risky initial investment in something that might not be useful to them, Rendor works on a ‘freemium’ model, allowing you to make a certain number of renderings per month until you are asked to either share with friends or shell out something in the neighborhood of $15-25 for a year of service. Other competing systems like 123D Catch instead try to capitalize on those who print their creations, but Rendor hopes to compete with them on the basis of speed, accuracy and ease of use. “We want to make it easy enough for anyone to hand their app to their grandparents and create a 3D model,” said Mamo.

The app remains in a very early stage, and the developers are still looking for investors, with a Kickstarter planned for later this summer.

Replica Labs

[h/t] 3Ders,, TechCrunch, (2), (3)


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