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

Epic Games has announced a new smartphone app that can create 3D models of objects from a series of smartphone photos. The idea is that you can 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 where someone scans 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 through Apple’s TestFlight platform, which will be open to 10,000 users.

I got into RealityScan beta and using the app is pretty easy. To take a series of photos, you can press and hold the capture button or take the shots one by one, and while doing so, you should slowly move around the subject to take different shots. The app will ask you to take at least 20 pictures. Once you’re done scanning, you can send the model to Sketchfab, a 3D modeling platform, for upload, and after a few minutes you’ll be able to see the scan you’ve taken on the website.

Unfortunately, the two separate scans I took of my desk chair weren’t pretty much as handsome as the chair Epic portrays in its marketing:

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

However, I wish my chair would float.
Screenshot of Jay Peters / The Virgin

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

Feels like this water bottle doesn’t work very well.
Screenshot of Jay Peters / The Virgin

While my RealityScan models look more like abstract art than believable 3D models, there could be a number of reasons why they don’t meet the requirements. Maybe 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 not gotten the right angles. And the app is launching in a limited beta, so Epic is likely to keep iterating until 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 for iOS is planned for spring, and an Android version of the app is slated for release later this year.

And that’s not the only developer tools news we’re getting from Epic this week; The Company is hosting a State of Unreal event on Tuesday, April 5 at 11:00 am ET.

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