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

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Epic Games has announced a new smartphone app that can construct 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 the scan of that object into your game or project.

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

I got into the RealityScan beta, and using the app is pretty straightforward. To take a series of photos, you can hold the capture button down or take the shots individually, and as you do, you’ll want to slowly move around the object to take various shots. The app asks that you take at least 20 images. Once you’re done scanning, you can send the model to be uploaded to Sketchfab, a 3D-modeling platform, and after a few minutes, you’ll be able to see the scan you’ve taken on the site.

Unfortunately, the two separate scans I took of my desk chair weren’t quite as good-looking as the chair Epic is featuring in its marketing:

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

I do sort of wish my chair floated, though.
Screenshot by Jay Peters / The Verge

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

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

While my RealityScan models might look more like abstract art than believable 3D models, there could be any number of reasons why they weren’t up to par. Perhaps my iPhone 12 mini’s cameras aren’t good enough. Maybe I wasn’t in a well-lit room. I may not have taken enough scans or didn’t get the correct angles. And the app is launching in a limited beta, so Epic will presumably continue to iterate up to the app’s official release.

I still think the app has a lot of promise, as it could be a really useful tool to quickly create 3D models using just your smartphone. An early access release on iOS is set for spring, and an Android version of the app is set to be released later this year.

And this isn’t the only developer tool news we’ll get from Epic this week; the company is hosting a “State of Unreal” event on Tuesday, April 5th, at 11AM ET.

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