When affordable flatbed 2D scanners first appeared in the 1990’s they provided almost anyone the ability to copy documents from the comfort of their own home. They also allowed us all to quickly digitize any document, or picture we ever encountered, giving us an instant method of backing up physical documents to a hard drive, and eventually the cloud, via the internet.
Here we are a couple of decades later and 3D scanning technology is where 2D scanning was in the 90’s. The main difference now is that technology is progressing much more rapidly than it did two decades ago, and the convergence of several exponentially growing technologies are making our lives tremendously more efficient. Currently it will cost you anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars to purchase a 3D scanner on the market today. These scanners can be used to digitize 3D objects, and copy them via a 3D printer if the user wishes. The combination of the lack of useful application for such a scanner, and the hefty price tags that they usually have attached to them, has led to a rather slow growing market.
One company, however is quietly trying to change all this. Replica Labs, a company founded in November of 2013, has been working behind the scenes developing an application, called Rendor, which can turn any smartphone with a camera into a fully functioning 3D scanner.
“We’re democratizing 3D scanning…no additional hardware…just dropping that barrier of entry all the way down to $0, for anyone with a smartphone and internet,” Isaac Roberts of Replica Labs told 3DPrint.com.
There will be five main steps for a user to begin scanning an object. They are as follows:
- Download the Rendor application and print out a scanning grid from their website
- Place the object to be scanned on the grid (make sure some circles are showing).
- Open the Rendor Application, press “Scan”, and take a video of the object from as many angles as possible.
- Once that’s done, click “Submit” to send the scan off to the Rendor cloud servers for processing.
- You’ll receive your rendering in a minute or less via email (depending on your internet connection).
“Rendor will be a freemium smartphone app for both android and iOS,” Roberts told us. “Our hope is that we can give everyone a certain number of scans for free as an allowance, maybe something like 3-5 scans for free each month. Once the user reaches this limit, only then will they be asked to do one of two things to get more scans processed: Share with friends, or pay for one of the paid plans. We’re not sure about the pricing yet, but we’re looking at something like $12-$25 per year.”
Paid plans would likely allow for an unlimited number of scans. Roberts told us that they are considering possibly two separate plans, one which allows for higher resolution scans, and thus will be priced at the more expensive side of the $12-$25 pricing tier
The technology used behind the scanning algorithms in Rendor are quite sophisticated.
“This technology is basically going from Drones to Phones,” Roberts stated. “There’s a lot of government funds going into Robotic Vision, and after seeing it in the lab, our co-founders Vince and Brandon realized there are valuable commercial uses for a lot of this technology today, and to be honest I was highly inclined to agree with them. Everything from Apparel to Toothbrushes and Casts need to be completely revolutionized, and we think 3D printing and scanning are the technologies that are going to drive this next wave of industrial upheaval, the next industrial revolution.”
Currently the Rendor application is undergoing closed Alpha stage testing, and the company looks to open up another round of testing by the 4th of July. This week they plan on demoing their technology to a large technology firm who has shown interest in what they are doing. In addition, at the end of this month they will be heading to Silicon Valley to work with the business accelerator, PlugandPlay. They plan to first launch the application on Android, and then later making an iOS version available. The plan right now is to launch a Rendor Kickstarter project around mid to late August of this year. Those wishing to test the functionality of the app out can sign up at their website to become one of their Beta testers.
Let us know what yo think about this application in the Rendor forum thread at 3DPB.com. Check out the brief video below showing off an early example of the Rendor technology.