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Here’s How Microsoft Plans to Turn Your iPhone Into a 3D Scanner

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3D printing is one of the coolest technologies on the market. When 3D printers first appeared, they were exorbitantly priced, only available to enterprises and people who were willing to spend a ridiculous amount of money.

But now, 3D printing has become widely available to the masses, and is being utilized in many different industries. And soon you, too, can easily scan objects to be used for 3D printing, augmented reality, or anything else. The best part is that you can do all of it straight from your iPhone!


The Microsoft Research team at the University of Oxford released information on a 3D scanning app that will bring 3D scanning technology to our mobile devices. Named MobileFusion, the iOS-friendly app lets users slowly pan around an object in order to capture a 3D model. Even though there have been other smartphone applications that produce 3D scanning, MobileFusion is the first one to solely use the power of your smartphone to deliver the scan. It functions without any additional hardware, and doesn’t require an Internet connection, either.

Their inspiration behind the app is that researchers wanted to make 3D scanning (and then printing) available to everyone so that they could create mementos, product samples, miniature models, and anything in between. “This is really about the accessibility and ubiquity of 3D scanning,” Shahram Izadi, one of the Microsoft researchers, said to Technet.


Research team members Pushmeet Kohli and Shahram Izadi have worked in the 3D scanning realm before. They both contributed to a project called Kinetic Fusion, where users had the ability to build 3D models of houses, offices, and even themselves. The difference is that Kinetic Fusion required a PC in addition to other gadgets. So they took MobileFusion as a challenge and a way in which they could take 3D scanning technologies “to the next level, in the sense of usability.”

But don’t get too excited just yet: right now, Microsoft is still deep in research on the 3D scanning technology. According to Cult of Mac, “Microsoft is still working on the system to ensure it can work with all mobile devices before making it available to the public.” The group plans on presenting MobileFusion at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality later this year.

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