This January we wrote about an amazing new USD$0.99 iPhone app that apparently was able to produce 3D models simply by taking a few snaps and applying image analysis. At that time the app could produce a 3D image, but not export models suitable for printing.
That's now changed as Trimensional now offers in-app purchase of extended features to export your 3D model in either OBJ, STL or PLY. As you can see, there's also options to "smooth" the model and close the back, making the model solid - very handy for printing.
However, there's a catch. The models just aren't terribly good. As you can see in the top image, we've captured a model of an arm and fist. But when you export the STL and import that into a modeling tool, (bottom image) well, you can see the results above.
Clearly you'd need to do a lot of fiddling with the mesh to produce something usable. This is not unexpected: the app merely takes four slightly off-angle pictures in the dark and attempts to interpret 3D information from them. Perhaps you might get better results than we did under perfect conditions, but our experiment should be typical. As powerful as an iPhone might be, it just doesn't have the hardware to do serious 3D scanning. Yet.
Nevertheless, we're still encouraged by Trimensional. The results are not particularly printable, but it's still pretty impressive. It's the first app able to produce 3D models in seconds from a mobile phone, and there's lots of room for enhancement. Someday we're hoping to see an app that can produce models as good as those from dedicated handheld 3D scanners.