Polycam Launches Photo Mode, Brings High-Accuracy 3D Scanning to All iPhones

Building on its earlier LIDAR-only release, Polycam's 3D scanning software now includes a photogrammetry mode.

Gareth Halfacree
2 months ago3D Printing

3D scanning specialist Polycam has announced a new tool, dubbed Photo Mode, which aims to let iPhone and iPad users capture high-quality 3D models as quickly as possible.

Today's Photo Mode release builds on Polycam's existing 3D scanner application, released last year as a tool for using the built-in LIDAR scanner in iPad Pro and iPhone 12 Pro models to quickly capture 3D models of environments and larger objects.

At the time, the company promised it was working on improving the scanning resolution and its ability to scan smaller objects - including facial features — "in a few weeks or months." Photo Mode, it would appear, delivers on that promise.

“Polycam’s mission has always been to bring 3D capture to everyone," says Chris Heinrich, Polycam chief executive officer, of the new release, "and today's Photo Mode launch is a huge step forward in this direction.

"It uses Apple’s new Object Capture API," Heinrich continues, "but runs it on the cloud so all you need is an iPhone with the Polycam app."

Where the standard Polycam scanner app relies on the LIDAR sensor built into the iPad Pro, iPhone 12 Pro, and iPhone 12 Pro Max, Photo Mode does everything using just the built-in camera — dramatically increasing the number of devices supported while simultaneously reducing the barrier to entry.

"LIDAR and photogrammetry have different strengths and complement each other really nicely," claims Elliott Spelman, Polycam co-founder, of the company's two approaches. "While LIDAR is incredibly fast and great for scanning spaces, Photo Mode can capture objects with wonderful detail and precision."

Existing Polycam users will receive the Photo Mode upgrade automatically; others can download the latest Polycam version from the Apple App Store now. Examples of objects scanned in Photo Mode — including a person, a milk carton, a fire hydrant, and a T-rex skull — have been listed in this Google Sheets spreadsheet.

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