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Your iPhone can now create 3D models, thanks to Epic Games' new app

New app in development that uses smartphone camera to scan 3D models
(Image credit: capturing Reality / RealityScan)

Ever wanted to create 3D models using your iPhone camera? Now you can! Currently in limited beta, this free 3D scanning app and new photogrammetry software announced by Epic Games is next-level and has limitless applications. 

Creating ultra-realistic and high-fidelity 3D models is a relatively tricky task, but this new RealityScan app is designed to make the experience simple and fun for iPhone users with interest in the practice and a flair for design.

• These are the best 3D scanners (opens in new tab)

In usual circumstances, capturing real-world assets in 3D would require advanced equipment, software, and expensive machines. RealityScan (opens in new tab), however, created by Epic Games in collaboration with Quixel, is able to turn the most basic of smartphone-captured photos into quality 3D models, in the most accessible way possible. 

More creators and hobbyists are beginning to embrace the art of 3D photogrammetry, a process that involves using a camera to take overlapping photographs of an object or space to gather data and measurements, analyzing the change in position from two different images, and then converting these images into 2D or 3D digital models using specialist software.

This process can be complicated, time consuming, and technical, which is where RealityScan comes in. This app takes what people love about the powerful desktop application software, RealityCapture (opens in new tab), and brings it into an accessible and simple app format that anyone with a smartphone camera can make use of. 

You may be wondering what the purpose of creating a 3D model is and what benefit it would have to you. Once a capture is complete, the 3D object can then be exported and shared to a popular social platform known as Sketchfab (opens in new tab). This website, launched in 2011, enables users to publish, discover, buy, and sell 3D content in addition to VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) content. 

(Image credit: Capturing Reality / Reality Scan)
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Three-dimensional models are also beneficial for engineers, designers, architects, commercial advertising teams, movie sets, illustrators and game developers by turning them into augmented reality objects using CAD design software, or adding them into games (as shown in the above video) with the Unreal Engine, also developed by Epic Games.

All the app instructions must be followed to ensure a good quality capture – for example, the app will need around 20 images of the object from different angles, with a good background and lighting expected to certainly improve the overall result. The app has been developed using technologies from Capturing Reality (opens in new tab), a company that was acquired by Epic in March last year.

“RealityCapture is the clear market leader in photogrammetry and has been integral to the creation of Quixel Megascans since its inception," said Teddy Bergsman, senior director at Quixel, Epic Games. "We are beyond excited to welcome Capturing Reality to our team, and to accelerate our shared vision to enable anyone to scan the world."

3D model chair inserted into a game (Image credit: capturing Reality / RealityScan)
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"RealityScan is the first step on our journey to make 3D scanning available to all creators," adds Michal Jancosek, cofounder at Capturing Reality. "We believe that this tool will greatly help people of all skill sets to better understand basic scanning principles, bridging the gap between beginners and professionals. We’re excited to develop the app with feedback from the community and to introduce new features as we approach the full release."

For more information and updates on RealityScan (opens in new tab) be sure to regularly check its website and test out the app via TestFlight (opens in new tab), in anticipation of the official release that is expected later this year. An Android version of the app is supposedly also under development. 

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Beth Nicholls
Staff Writer

A staff writer for Digital Camera World, Beth has an extensive background in various elements of technology with five years of experience working as a tester and sales assistant for CeX. After completing a degree in Music Journalism, followed by obtaining a Master's degree in Photography awarded by the University of Brighton, she spends her time outside of DCW as a freelance photographer specialising in live music events and band press shots under the alias 'bethshootsbands'.