Epic’s new RealityScan app can create 3D models from smartphone photos

Epic Games has announced a new smartphone app that can build 3D models of objects from a series of smartphone photos. The idea is that you’ll be able to use the app, called RealityScan, to scan an object in the real world – say, a chair – and then bring that object’s scan into your game or project.

You can see how it works in the video at the top of this article, which shows someone scanning a brown chair, the result of which looks like a hand-made 3D model. The app is currently available in a first-come, first-served beta through Apple’s TestFlight platform that will be open to 10,000 users.

I entered the beta version of RealityScan and using the app is quite easy. To take a series of photos, you can hold down the capture button or take the photos individually, and as you do this you’ll want to move slowly around the object to take various shots. The app asks you to take at least 20 images. Once the scan is complete, you can send the model to upload to Sketchfab, a 3D modeling platform, and after a few minutes you will be able to see the scan you made on the site.

Unfortunately, the two separate scans I took from my office chair were not enough as beautiful as the chair that Epic promotes in its marketing:

I promise my chair doesn’t have a big hole in the middle.
Screenshot by Jay Peters/The Verge

I kinda wish my chair would float, though.
Screenshot by Jay Peters/The Verge

A scan of my water bottle on a table didn’t turn out much better:

I feel like this water bottle wouldn’t work very well.
Screenshot by Jay Peters/The Verge

Although my RealityScan models look more like abstract art than believable 3D models, there can be a number of reasons why they don’t measure up. Maybe my iPhone 12 mini’s cameras aren’t good enough. Maybe I wasn’t in a well-lit room. Maybe I didn’t take enough scans or got the angles wrong. And the app is launching in a limited beta, so Epic will likely continue to iterate until the app is officially released.

I still think the app holds great promise as it could be a very useful tool for quickly creating 3D models using just your smartphone. An early access release on iOS is planned for the spring, and an Android version of the app is expected to be released later this year.

And that’s not the only dev tool news we’ll be getting from Epic this week; the company is hosting a “State of Unreal” event on Tuesday, April 5 at 11 a.m. ET.

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