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New iPad App And Added Structure Sensor Does 3D Room Scans

Published: 02/12/2016

Last week there was an article in Wired about a new iPad App that does 3-D scans of rooms. The article says: can use the $380 rig to quickly create 3D scans of anything: Entire rooms, objects you’d like to 3D-print, and environments you’d like to turn into interactive AR backdrops using Occipital’s Bridge Engine. The Structure depth-sensing camera itself has been around for a couple of years, but Occipital’s been hard at work since then making it easier to use.

The result of that work is a new iOS app called Canvas, which lets you sweep the sensor rig across a room to create a raw 3D map of it instantly. The app guides you through a big scan, overlaying already-scanned areas with a paint-like filter to show you if you’ve missed a spot. When you finish capturing, you immediately see a raw 3D model of the scene in the app—and you can also see the distances between objects without having to use a tape measure at all.

The most interesting thing about this App and scanning hardware is how this kind of functionality is getting quite inexpensive!

Is anyone using this App yet?

Larry Lohrman

11 comments on “New iPad App And Added Structure Sensor Does 3D Room Scans”

  1. This looks very interesting.

    My lack of knowledge of CAD begs this question. After you get the CAD files back how easy is it for agents and clients (and myself) to view these files or images? I can see a value to providing these 3d models only if the general layman can view them without specific software or downloads.

    Now if working for architects, designers or professionals who use CAD then there is definitely value there for them.


  2. I'm impressed with the progress of 3D tech, generally speaking. The end results here are pretty rough, but with time I think it will be very easy to map a space in 3D without the need for expensive setups.

  3. Hi Scott,

    While on first glance it may seem like the Structure Sensor doing 3D rooms scans replaces Matterport - or real estate photographers, that's a bit like asking does a smartphone replace a DSLR or does person-with-DSLR camera replace a professional real estate photographer.

    While there are at least 30 scanners on the market today, Matterport is still the 800 pound gorilla in the space.

    If you are scanning one room to get room dimensions, that's a great solution for a homeowner to take their measurements with them to IKEA. If a real estate agent seeks help winning more and bigger listings more often, that's Matterport for scanning the entire house to create 3D and VR tours.



  4. Answering to Gavin, if I remember well, you can add a 3D model to a PDF with Acrobat Pro. So you can easily send it without any 3D software.

  5. Curious what the additional charge is for the CAD files... it says they will deliver it within 1 or 2 days... which means it's going to be a charge... but they don't say what that charge is. Also, for me, if it can create a blueprint of the property, it could be useful.

  6. I have to say I agree with Dan. There's no way this could replace Matterport! Matterport is so far the best WALK THROUGH tool out there. It would sure be nice if that came down in pricing as well. There's definitely interest in matterport by real estate professionals out here BUT..."NEAT" doesn't necessarily translate into a "WILLINGNESS TO PAY" for the service. I would love to here more about what photographers are charging realtors for matterport's 3D virtual tour services.

  7. As I first read it, my first though was as a replacement for Matterport, but looking at the Canvas website, appears falls well short. On the video, the renditions appear to be in B&W - great for it's core role of measurement mapping but a non-starter for RE. The other issue is what is the issue that would drive it in an HTML environment, like the cylinder in tours. Playback in the video seemed to be file based on the iPad or computer providing the processing power. But probably the best line is what Larry wrote, "The most interesting thing about this App and scanning hardware is how this kind of functionality is getting quite inexpensive!" That is one of the two core reasons that have held me back from Matterport despite some realtors asking me. I simply don't want a $4500 doorstop when some some newfangled whizbang iPhone app comes along. The other thing that keeps me away from Matterport is the photographic quality not at a level I would want to put my name behind and deliver. While those on the Matterport web gallery are decent, individual production ones I have seen are lacking. Notable has been the lack of color balance with known white areas (trim, doors, etc) yellow - and even has yellow tinging of doors in Matterport's gallery. A few probably illustrated lack of skill but has ugly massive box on tripod shadow on wall. Being available light and normal challenges such as window exposures, really wonder if testing the upper limits of the sensor's ISO capability as lower light has extreme noise and the yellow cast increases. When Realtors ask, if they are willing to pay the high price charged for Matterport, I talk to them about true video.

  8. I'd want to take a serious test drive before buying. I know in some countries where floorplans are common for marketing or even mandatory, there are strict accuracy requirements. The questions I would ask are if the 3D model can be tweaked with directly measured dimensions in case the unit was generating some sort of glitch. The scan-to-CAD option seems rather spendy. $29/room can add up fast although for basic 2D floorplans, one probably doesn't need a full CAD file.

    After a very quick read, I didn't see any mention of how well it does in furnished rooms and how well it recognizes doors and windows. I can envision a scanning product for floorplans that sits on a tripod where the user adjusts the height to clear most obstructions and it quickly scans 360° measuring the walls and users can identify doors and windows so they will display correctly and things like pictures and wall sconces can be deleted.

    In my market and nearby cities, there isn't a huge percentage of home being professionally photographed. For marketing, I see stills as being number one with video as the next step. Aerials are popular and Matterport type product being further down the list. I ask people to contact me regarding floorplans, but I've never been asked and haven't made the investment in hardware and software. I don't see any way that I could do a floorplan for $20ish dollars and can't see local agents being willing to plop down more money until they need to go that one step further in marketing to attract more clients to list with them. Floorplans could be popular with buyers if there were an application for a tablet or computer that let them take that floorplan and play with arranging the furniture they have in the space with maybe some models available from Ashley Furniture of new stuff. Whatever the marketing is, it needs to work on getting the potential buyer to contact the agent and schedule a viewing.

    For commercial properties, floorplans are awesome. When I had a manufacturing company, we moved a couple of times and I had to take a 100' tape measure to prospective properties so I could sketch up the plan in CAD and make sure I could lay out all of the equipment and production lines within the building. It also let me draw up electrical diagrams so the electrician could drop power where I needed it. I would have been over the moon to be able to download a floorplan. Even just something I could print to scale would have been great.

  9. Curious if anyone is concerned about the multitude of foreign digital artists that are being used for cheap labor in the background for all these applications instead of local homegrown American talent. I'm not trying to instigate a flame war, I'm a Democrat and a globalist. But I'm also an ex-VFX artist, 20 years in the business, who's is now in real estate due to cheap foreign labor and foreign subsidies. VFX, the ones you see in all movies and commercials, were invented in Northern California but are now mostly a foreign commodity. Like these apps.

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