The face camera on an iPhone X or newer can be used to make 3D scans.
A new app for iPhone makes it easy to produce 3D scans from any recent Apple device equipped with a front-facing camera for Animoji. This means the Capture app from Standard Cyborg can scan objects using an iPhone X, Xs, Xr, or Xs Max. The feature is implemented reasonably well, though it is also clear why Apple has yet to include this feature as part of the camera app itself.
Apple used its purchases of Primesense and Faceshift over the last several years to put depth-sensing into every new iPhone’s front-facing camera. This system is tuned for facial recognition — to log into your phone automatically with your face — but it also allows people to overlay “animoji” on top of themselves as they talk.
We’ve also talked to developers who are using Apple’s camera system for performance capture along with a full-body suit.
Now, we’ve downloaded the free Capture app that works to make 3D scans using this same camera. Since it is the front-facing camera being used, you have to hold the iPhone’s screen facing whatever you want to capture — almost as if it is a very low power tricorder from Star Trek.
The scans produced are in the USDZ format Apple embraced on iOS devices, and can be shared with other iPhone users via messaging in this format. At the time of this writing it only captures a monochrome 3D object that can be sent along to someone else. If you sign up for an account with Standard Cyborg, the company behind the app, it allows you to output the scans as an OBJ.
Here’s quick scan of my family’s Elf on The Shelf sitting on top of an Oculus Sensor this morning and uploaded it to Sketchfab. We have bad lighting in our house and I’m not sure how much that affects the quality of the scan, but you can check it out below: