Shapeways has uncovered a really intriguing iOS app: Trimensional. This simple app uses a four-way flash to roughly capture the shape of a face or other object held motionless as far as 20cm away from the front-facing camera. Since the front camera is used by the app, it's only available for iPhone 4's and the 2010 iPod Touch at the moment.
When in position, a touch triggers a quick sequence of four "flashes", which are really white areas that suddenly appear on each of the four corners of the screen in sequence. By placing the subject in a totally dark environment and cranking up the brightness on your iPhone, the camera is able to capture four differently illuminated images that are presumably merged together to produce a wacky 3D image. At that close distance the perspective is a little screwy and so noses can seem to be somewhat larger than reality. At least ours, anyway. Hm.
The app lets you email or save the resulting images, but we immediately began searching for the "STL export" function. None was found. However, according to the Trimensional blog:
3D model exporting is coming to Trimensional v1.02. For many 3D artists and 3D printing enthusiasts, this is the feature that turns Trimensional from an interesting toy into a useful tool, so the plan is (and always has been) to make exporting available to these advanced users as an in-app purchase for a few bucks. (Note that this is the only feature I ever intend to charge extra for, all other improvements will come free of charge.) Based on feedback so far, OBJ is a format that would work for a lot of people.
If you'd like them to support a different format, say STL for example, perhaps you should add your thoughts to this post.
Nevertheless, if Trimensional is able to pull off either STL or OBJ output, it's a wonderful step. Imagine having in your pocket a rudimentary 3D scanner! You'd be able to quickly and conveniently capture the shape of objects as you encounter them. Try it now at the App Store for only USD$0.99
Keys will never be safe again.