Microsoft develops MobileFusion app that can turn any smartphone into a 3D scanner
Microsoft Research, the research arm of the Redmond-based company, is working on a new project that will allow you to design high-quality 3D images in actual time. Called MobileFusion, an software application for smartphones, would allow their cameras to turn into a 3D scanner. It is currently working on Android smartphones and tablets, iOS devices and Windows Phones.
Microsoft says “The researchers then developed an algorithm that allowed the camera to act as a 3D scanner, using a technique of taking multiple images that is similar to how the human eye works.” The aim is to let users create 3D images as easily as they would take a picture or record a video with their handsets. Also, the idea is to make a replica of all the interesting things you see across you.
For instance, if you see an interesting historical monument, you can take images of it and later produce its 3D-printed replica.
“What this system effectively allows us to do is to take something similar to a picture, but it’s a full 3D object,” said Peter Ondruska, a Ph.D. candidate at Oxford University who worked on this project during his internship at Microsoft Research.
It sounds very alluring, as Microsoft noted, as does not need an extra hardware or even internet connection for that matter to take 3D images.
Scans taken with MobileFusion are high-quality enough that they can be used for augmented reality video games as well as 3D printing. The creation of the 3D model can be seen in the app in real-time, so that users can decide if the model is good enough. If it’s not good enough, the user can simply try again to scan the 3D object until he or she is happy with the final result.
Pushmeet Kohli and Shahram Izadi are the face behind this project. Previously both have worked on a similar project called Kinect Fusion, which allowed the users to build 3D models of their bodies, houses etc. Unlike MobileFusion, however, Kinect required a user to have a PC and other dedicated hardware around while take an object’s 3D image.
The research team will be displaying the MobileFusion at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality in early October. They ultimate goal is to release MobileFusion as a public smartphone app to the general public at some point in the future. However, there is no word on when, or if, that might happen.