Creating 3-D Models with a Cell Phone

Joseph Chumbley from Lockheed Martin provided me with this link to an article in MIT’s Technology Review where they highlight a new 3-D modeling cell phone app from Microsoft.

Here is how it works: “To capture a car in 3-D, for example, a person needs to take a handful of photos from different viewpoints around it. The photos can be instantly sent to a cloud server for processing. The app then downloads a photo-realistic model of the object that can be smoothly navigated by sliding a finger over the screen. A detailed 360 degree view of a car-sized object needs around 40 photos, a smaller object like a birthday cake would need 25 or fewer.”

See the embedded video to get a feeling for the high quality and speed. I think there is going to be a place in the 3-D imaging space where this will be “good enough”.

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5 Responses to Creating 3-D Models with a Cell Phone

  1. Thad Wester says:

    Interesting. Many of the comments on the link you posted are concerned with it only being a stitched set of pictures, which may be a valid complaint. However, I agree with you Gene, I think this will be plenty good enough for many applications. Think of ebay, Craigslist, amazon, etc. all of which use flat pictures to display their items for sale. Now they can tack on an extra fee, .40 cents, and you could easily and quickly develop and upload a 3-d picture of your item.

  2. Rob F. says:

    Very cool Gene…you should also take a gander at what Urban Robotics ( is doing with dense 3D extraction. Pretty cool stuff. They’ve even toyed around with the iPhone to produce a point cloud from only 3 photos.

    YouTube vid:

  3. Paul Mabry says:

    Another company that uses photos to extract high accuracy point clouds is photomodeler. They have some very interesting applications on their website.

  4. Andy Evans says:

    This is certainly bringing 3D Imaging to the mass market, now if you can geo-reference these models as well. It did look like that viewing angle for the model was based on the camera trajectory – but that obviously gives the best rendering for display purposes…….

    Topcon ImageMaster has been doing something similar for a number of years as well.

    Check out this authorised dealer site for some samples:

    You can also download a 30 day trial if you like.

  5. Chris Royak says:

    Here’s another cell phone app along the same lines…

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