Polycam Launches High-Speed LIDAR 3D Scanning App for Apple's 2020 iPad Pro Family

High-speed, high-accuracy scanning app uses the LIDAR feature of new iPad Pro models — and resolution improvements are in the pipeline.

Gareth Halfacree
a year ago3D Printing / Sensors

Polycam has launched a 3D scanner app designed for Apple's latest iPad Pro model, using the camera and built-in LIDAR scanner to quickly create full-color 3D scans with high accuracy.

"We've invested a fair bit of work to make this app as performant as possible. To the best of my knowledge, Polycam textures meshes about 5x faster than any other app out there," Polycam's Chris Heinrich claims of the tool. "We've also got a suite of new features coming down the pipe, from enabling larger capture creation, to improved spatial resolution."

"We will be rolling out a feature in the next week or so that allows you to capture larger spaces though via a kind of loop-closure mechanism. We [also] intend to improve spatial resolution by incorporating visual and depth data, and will hopefully have an update out in a couple weeks. For now though, rooms and large objects work best."

Heinrich claims his company is working on boosting the resolution of the scan, too, predicting that "in a few weeks or months" it will have improved to the point where it can be used to scan smaller objects — including human features, for in-game models or 3D printing of busts and masks.

The app is compatible with iOS 13.4 or later, though best results come from iOS 14; the LIDAR scanning is compatible only with the new 2020 iPad Pro models, though rumours abound that Apple is looking to bring the same sensor to its next iPhone family refresh.

The tool is now available to download on the App Store; the software itself is free, but a paid upgrade is required to export models. Sample scans can be found on Sketchfab.

Gareth Halfacree
Freelance journalist, technical author, hacker, tinkerer, erstwhile sysadmin. For hire: freelance@halfacree.co.uk.
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