In early October, researchers will show off Microsoft’s new MobileFusion technology, a project that enables an ordinary smartphone to serve as a 3D scanner. MobileFusion is notable for a number of reasons: it doesn’t require any special attachments, nor does it require an Internet connection, and it is something any smartphone user could utilize. Most present day smartphones are powerful enough to use the 3D scanning system, with the phone’s camera being the starting point of that system and an algorithm doing the rest of the work.
Microsoft Research detailed the project today; the division says this technology could be used to capture a subject as a full 3D object using a smartphone, whether it is some aspect of an outdoors landscape, a person, or something you’re looking to print. The technology works by taking several pictures of a subject and combining them into a single 3D object.
As you can see in the demonstration video above, the capture is continuous — once the subject is identified and the recording starts, the operator moves around the subject while the software captures the object. The mesh model is then generated and extracted from its background. The resulting models are said to be high enough in quality for 3D printing, among other things.
As of right now there aren’t any solid plans about releasing the project to the public, but the researchers say that is the goal, and that they’re working to make it compatible with Android, iOS, and Windows Phone. MobileFusion will be shown off at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality in early October.