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How the Structure Sensor for iPad could make 3D scanning a part of everyday life

Oscar Raymundo | Oct. 20, 2015
The iPad sensor from Occipital has new iOS apps that use 3D scanning to measure rooms, ship items, and even take next-gen family portraits.

room capture structure sensor


Let’s say you want to ship a stack of books, a speaker, or even a chair, but you’re not sure what size box you’re going to need. Using the forthcoming WhatBox app and the Structure Sensor, you can get scan the item and get its exact dimensions, in both centimeters or inches. WhatBox also links you to either FedEx or to order the box online. FedEx, however, only sells five standard box sizes so having WhatBox measures items so precisely seems a little bit like overkill. For example, a Magic Mouse measures 2.4 x 3.5 x 0.8 inches, according to WhatBox, and the FedEx box it suggests for that is 12.25 x 10.9 x 1.5. Well, of course it will fit. Did I really need a 3D scanner to tell me that? has a wider selection of box sizes, but if you click to see them after scanning your item, you get about 30 results. You have to then browse to find just the minimum-sized box that it will fit in, and requires a minimum buy of 25 boxes. Even though WhatBox’s integrations with shipping retailers seem rather moot, having the exact box measurements of an item, especially something weirdly shaped like headphones or a stuffed animal, does come in handy.

whatbox structure sensor


The most interesting app I tried that works with the Structure Sensor happens to be the least practical. The itSeez3D app captures a full-color 3D replica of people, either just a Roman Empire-style bust or the entire full-length body.

The first thing the itSeez3D app will ask is if you want to scan an object or a human. Have your human subject stand still as you walk around them scanning all sides of their body, even the top of their head and under the chin. During the scan, the app will alert you if you’ve gotten too closer or too far or if some other misalignment has happened so you can correct it on the spot. itSeez3D will then upload the body scan to the cloud, which takes about five minutes. You can email yourself the scan in a WRL file format so you can upload it to, the 3D printing shop, and have them make a figurine statue out of it. That’s right, now you can have your cheesy family portrait 3D-printed and put up on a mantle. Sounds like something Kanye West and the Kardashians might want to add to their holiday wish list.

itseez3d structure sensor

The Structure Sensor is definitely at the forefront of making a 3D scanner as indispensable as a measuring tape. But just like a measuring tape, you can live without it—for now. The best part of the sensor is that it has a Structure SDK so that developers can tap into the depth data to create iOS apps that really are the firsts of their kind. The reasons for having a 3D scanner at home will only increase, making the Structure Sensor even less of a one-trick pony. Maybe soon we’ll be able to use this sensor to figure out exactly how much gift wrap we’re going to need to cover up all those holiday gifts.


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