At the beginning of the month, Sony released its latest smartphone – the Xperia XZ1, along with its smaller counterpart, the Xperia XZ1 Compact. With it came an intriguing new feature – a 3D scanner! The new phone is fitted with an app called 3D Creator that allows users to take a 3D scan of any object or person simply by moving the phone around said object or person. It was hardly surprising – experts have been saying for ages that eventually everyone will be able to use their smartphone as a 3D scanner, but it’s exciting to see that prediction become a reality.

Reviews have described the scanner app as a pretty good one – it’s speedy and offers tools that allow users to easily modify their scans. 3D scans are saved in .OBJ format, so they’re compatible with just about any 3D printer – however, despite the increasing popularity and accessibility of 3D printers, still many more people have smartphones than 3D printers. Many more people have smartphones, in fact, than could name a 3D printing service bureau. So what’s an unfamiliar-with-3D-printing XZ1 user to do if they want to turn one of their smartphone scans into an actual object?

Well, they could do a quick Google search, for one thing. But Sony and Sculpteo have made things even easier through a new partnership. Users of the 3D Creator app can send their files directly to Sculpteo, which will 3D print them and deliver them anywhere in the world. The object will be 3D printed in multi-colored material, and users can choose from several options regarding size. They can also pay directly from the app; it’s a fully integrated service.

“By becoming a built-in part of our precious smartphones, 3D printing is continuing its generalization and helping to further eradicate the boundaries between the digital and the real world,” said Clément Moreau, CEO and Co-Founder of Sculpteo.

Indeed, 3D printing has been integrated with smartphones in different ways for a while now. The two technologies are maturing together, and it’s interesting to see the many ways they complement each other. The world is now full of 3D printed smartphone cases and assorted accessories, but the two technologies have been used together for much more important purposes as well. Smartphones have been paired with 3D printed attachments in order to improve detection of multiple health conditions, from pancreatic cancer to diabetic retinopathy and infertility to superbugs.

Plenty of 3D printers allow remote monitoring from smartphones, which is extremely helpful – most of us carry our smartphones everywhere we go as if they’re glued to our hands. If we can check the status of our print jobs as often as we check Facebook, we’ll have far fewer spectacular catastrophes. Many of those same 3D printers can also be controlled from our smartphones. It makes sense – we do almost everything else with our smartphones, so why shouldn’t we be able to handle our 3D printing needs with them as well? Now we – at least those of us who own Xperia XZ1 phones – can handle our 3D scanning needs with them, too, and it likely won’t be long before the technology begins appearing on most other smartphone models as well.

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[Images: Sony]

 

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