We’ve been following what Matterport has been doing in the 3D Scanner space since they first came on the scene–excited about their debut, saddened by their dropping the handheld 3d scanner and now elated to see what they’ve been up to. In February, they announced how they’re teaming up with Google on Google’s Project Tango, with the goal “to give mobile devices a human-scale understanding of space and motion” and headed up by Human-Computer Interaction researcher, Johnny Lee, best known for his work on the Microsoft Kinect. This and other developments are changing the state of 3D scanning and Matterport is part of the shifting stage.

Since ’09, we’ve seen scanning via webcam, structured light capture (my fav), 3d scanning apps, iPad scanning attachments and scanning with Google Glass. When Matterport launched their tripod-mounted system, that could have been it for them, but they seemed to have realized what few others did–mobile devices will be the 3d scanners of the future. They hinted at this when Matterport CEO, Matt Bell, said,

“PrimeSense makes the 3D sensor that provides the raw data into our system, and they just announced a much smaller sensor that can go into mobile devices. This means Matterport’s capabilities will eventually end up on every new cellphone and tablet, and we’ll have millions of people making 3D models of their homes.”

Then Apple acquired PrimeSense (Nov 2013) for many reasons, among them controlling the tech that is used in many 3d scanners, including the Microsoft Kinect, and gaining access to sensors that are small enough to fit into mobile devices and digital media player. Then Google launched Project Tango (Feb 2014) to build on the collective knowledge of developers and build a new phone with a new user experience that goes beyond the 2d touch screen. Matterport is one of the first to be part of this project, debuting the results of their app saying, “Matterport’s software will be an app enabling millions of people to capture, share, and interact with the world around them in 3D. We have been working to optimize Matterport’s software stack for Tango, and already have some early results to show.

Both of these events have set the sensing of 3d motion and objects in motion for mobile devices. It’s likely the next generation of phones will have some of this technology, providing a more Kinect-like experience wherever you may be, synced with your wearable, desktop computer, transportation, set-top box or digital media player. Your device will go from merely capturing 3d geometry to sensing all matter of factors you may need for proper fit, function and optimization. 3d scanning has shifted to 3d sensing, and the possibilities are just beginning to cycle up.

Tango from Mestaty on Sketchfab.


Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.