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As 3D printing has become a more viable pastime for the technologically inclined, there’s a similarly growing need for quick, easy, and accurate 3D modeling. To address that need, last week computer vision firm Itseez released a new, free iPad app that provides users a quick and painless way to make 3D renderings of everyday objects.

The concept behind Itseez3D is simple: activate the app and walk around the object you want to scan. From there, the app offloads the work of rendering the image on computing power from “the cloud and returns with a complete 3D model within minutes.”

There is a catch, however: just as the iPad can’t handle the processing power to render the image itself, its camera likewise isn’t powerful enough to capture the images in the first place. For that, a user will need the Structure Sensor from Occipital, a $400 camera ($500 with a mount) built for the iPad that raised over $1.2 million in a Kickstarter campaign last year.

Said Itseez co-founder and CEO Victor Erukhimov on the Structure Sensor’s potential:

“We recognized the immense potential of Structure Sensor early on, and Itseez3D represents our efforts to weave advanced computer vision technology with this innovation. Essentially, we’ve made high quality 3D model creation faster, more accessible and more cost-effective than ever before. We’re excited to find out how professional and recreational users will leverage this technology.”

In essence, the combination of Itseez3D and the Structure Sensor seems capable of much the same kind of functionality as Project Tango, Google’s experimental 3D mapping smartphone and tablet. That device packs the power to handle 3D modeling all on its own – but it’s not available to the public right now. On the other hand, Itseez3D and the Structure Sensor can be purchased and used by hobbyists and developers at this very moment.

The Structure Sensor isn’t cheap, but then, it seems to boast some pretty powerful abilities. If you’ve already got a current-gen iPad (G4, Mini, or Air), you can start 3D modeling right now. If I had a 3D printer, I’d be even more tempted than I already am. Chances seem good that this is just the beginning of 3D modeling applications. Itseez3D and Occipital have opened the door to some really interesting new capabilities for the iPad, what’s typically a consumption device. It’s exciting to think about what’s coming next.

As for the future of Itseez3D on other platforms, a spokesperson for Itseez says that it all depends on whether or not other sensors with the same kind of power are made for Android or other devices. Even still, considering that the iPad is the most popular tablet out there, chances seem good that there will be no shortage of potential customers.



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