Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Epic’s new RealityScan app can create 3D models from smartphone photos

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Shreya has been with cafe-madrid.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider cafe-madrid.com team, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

Epic Games has announced a new smartphone app that can construct 3D models of objects from a series of smartphone photos. The idea is that you can use the app, called RealityScanto scan an object in the real world, say a chair, and then use that object’s scan in your game or project.

You can see how it works in the video at the top of this post, in which someone scans a brown chair, the result of which looks like a handmade 3D model. The app is currently available in a first-come, first-served beta through Apple’s TestFlight platform, which is open to 10,000 users.

I got into the beta version of RealityScan and using the app is quite easy. To take a series of shots, you can either hold down the capture button or take the shots individually, and as you do that you’ll want to move slowly around the subject to take different shots. The app asks you to take a minimum of 20 photos. Once you’re done scanning, you can submit the model to upload to Sketchfab, a 3D modeling platform, and after a few minutes, you’ll be able to see the scan you’ve made on the site.

Unfortunately, the two separate scans I made of my desk chair were not rather as beautiful as the chair Epic shows in its marketing:

I promise my chair won’t have a big hole in the middle.
Screenshot by Jay Peters / The Verge

I wish my chair floated.
Screenshot by Jay Peters / The Verge

A scan of my water bottle on the table didn’t turn out much better:

It feels like this water bottle wouldn’t work very well.
Screenshot by Jay Peters / The Verge

While my RealityScan models look more like abstract art than credible 3D models, there could be a number of reasons why they fell short. Maybe my iPhone 12 mini’s cameras aren’t good enough. Maybe I wasn’t in a well lit room. Maybe I didn’t scan enough or didn’t get the right angles. And the app is launching in a limited beta, so Epic will presumably continue until the app’s official release.

I still think the app holds a lot of promise as it can be a really useful tool to quickly create 3D models using just your smartphone. An early release on iOS is planned for spring and an Android version of the app will be released later this year.

And this isn’t the only developer tools news we’ll get from Epic this week; the company hosts a Event ‘State of Unreal’ on Tuesday, April 5 at 11 a.m. ET.

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