Fund this: Eora turns your smartphone into a 3D scanner

Green-laser scanning gets affordable with this Kickstarter project, which will retail for $330.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

Just how smart is your smartphone? Smart enough to power a 3D scanner.

So goes the thinking behind Eora 3D, a laser scanner that uses your phone as the brains.

This Kickstarter project, which has already surpassed its goal five times over, aims to make 3D scanning affordable. It's a small, tabletop monolith with a rotating green laser embedded in the top. With a few taps of the accompanying software, the laser scans any object up to one square meter in size, at a distance of up to three feet.

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If you need to capture something larger, the app will let you perform multiple scans and stitch them together. You can also add an optional Bluetooth-connected turntable that makes for easier scanning of smaller objects.

There's a threaded hole in the bottom so you can attach the Eora to any standard tripod.

Once you've completed a scan, you can export the image in OBJ, PLY or STL format for easy printing and sharing. The apps will also allow you to import those kinds of files from other sources.


What's the significance of the green laser? According to the developer, "Most consumer 3D scanners use a red laser, but digital camera CMOS sensors (like our eyes) are twice as sensitive to the green spectrum as they are to red. This means you can scan in a variety of lightning conditions, even outdoors."

The developer also notes that green lasers typically cost three times as much as red ones, but by using a smartphone to "do the heavy lifting," the scanner itself can be made affordable.

Speaking of which, although the $199 early-bird backer option is sold out, you can still get one for $229. If you pay $259, you'll get the Bluetooth turntable as well. The expected retail price of the two together is $399.

Now for the bad news: Eora's expected ship date is June 2016. And if you've never backed a Kickstarter project before, be aware that ship dates tend to be very fluid. Over the years I've backed maybe 10, and I think only one or two actually arrived within that "expected" window.

If you can handle the wait, this is a very inexpensive way to own what looks to be a very cool 3D scanner. Your thoughts?