So, I’m minding my own business, trying to increase my high score on Scramble 2 when all of a sudden I feel a tremor in the 3D mobile app force. Nope, it wasn’t the tomatillo enchiladas. There had been, as a matter of fact, a new iPhone app approved.

The 3DVia Mobile iPhone app. It’s out as of now and for the time, it’s completely free at the iTunes App store. What? You’re a bit skeptical of ‘free’ and wondering what new and wonderous power lies within this 3D app? Not a problem. We’ve got the details.

The Example

So, a quick example of what you can do. You can search the 3DVia model library for a car, touch the Saleen S7 model that appears in the search results, rotate, pan and zoom in on the model. Here you see the car.

Here you see the car super-imposed on top of a photo of a banana I took just minutes ago.

What is 3DVia Mobile useful for?

Cars on Bananas. Is that it? 3DVia Mobile is very simply a 3D model viewing app. Unlike the 3DVia website that is a full-up social-type network for people to share models created with different modeling platforms, 3DVia Mobile, at the moment, only allows you to view the models created by the users of 3DVia, create overlays using your photos and post snapshots to your Photos to send to people.

Here is Cliff Medling’s take on three different uses for 3DVia Mobile.

So now, you may wonder even more, “What is 3DVia mobile useful for?” While simulated augmented reality is kind of neat (and while Apple gets their act together on allowing apps to augment via the video camera) the uses at the moment are limited to what you’ve seen above. However, one immediate practical use that comes to mind is allowing customers to view different products without having to bring anything with you. You could even use it as a portfolio of models you’ve created.

Here are a few more features:

  • Sign into your own 3DVia account
  • Display only Your Models
  • Comment on Models
  • Search for Users

Jump a few years and a few releases and you can imagine how this could be expanded to provide better virtualization of products to your clients. Even more powerful is the data that each model could contain, giving users the ability to display anything from build instructions, video demonstrations and even functional location analysis. For the time being, you’ll simply need to be satisfied with the novelty of putting your models on top of your bosses face.

The Similar Apps

There are two other apps that have similar functions to 3DVia Mobile. iLiving allows you to take a fixed set of furniture models and insert them into a room photo you’ve taken with your iPhone. Aonther app called NaviCAD allows you to browse user content on Google 3D Warehouse.

3DVia mobile is like those two apps, smashed together. However, there’s one big difference. 3DVia Mobile has the most amazing, fluid 3D viewing capability. It’s better than any of the 3D games I’ve seen and definitely provides an amazing benchmark for the future of 3D model viewing on mobile devices.

3DVia Mobile Resources

The 3DVia Mobile quick tutorial
The 3DVia iPhone App (iTunes)
The Develop3D coverage/Interview


Josh is founder and editor at, 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.