Getting Started - How to Use the Scanner App

Scanner is a great, simple app to get started with scanning. If you've never scanned before, or you require a quick, easy, and free solution for scanning, Scanner is the app for you! We've written this article as a comprehensive guide to getting started with Scanner and your Mark II.

If you require a more robust, full-featured object scanning solution, please check out Skanect Pro.

We also suggest taking a look at this video for a more visual tutorial:

Before you start

Scanning with Scanner is fairly straightforward, but there are some things to be aware of before getting started. Please read through the following section to make sure you are aware of all the functionality Scanner. Even if you're used to using Scanner with the original Structure Sensor, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with some of Scanner's new features.

Update your Firmware
The first thing you should do upon receiving your sensor is to make sure its firmware is up to date. We are constantly working hard to improve our hardware and software. Be sure to get the most out of your new purchase by getting everything up to date.

To update your firmware, please follow these steps:

  1. Download the Structure app from the App Store.
  2. Launch Structure and connect your sensor to your iPad.
  3. After the sensor initializes, tap the "i" icon in the upper right corner. If you have a firmware update available, you will be given an option to update your sensor by tapping the blue button.

Verify your depth feed
Once your sensor's firmware is updated, be sure to verify that your depth coverage is sufficient.

To test this, first clean your sensor’s glass plate with alcohol and a microfiber cloth. Then, open the Structure app , wait for your sensor to initialize, and face a flat, featureless wall. Standing three to four feet away, please point your sensor toward the wall, ensuring you are in the “Depth” mode. Your depth feed should look something like this:

good depth coverage screenshotGood Depth Coverage poor depth coverage screenshotPoor Depth Coverage

If you have poor depth coverage, you can recalibrate your sensor using the instructions found here: How can I improve my sensor's depth coverage?

Calibrate your sensor.
For best user experience, we highly recommend using the Calibrator app to calibrate your sensor's depth feed to the iPad's color feed. You will need to do this without the Wide Vision Lens. For full instructions on how to calibrate your sensor, please check out this article: Getting Started - How to Use the Calibrator App

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Acceptable object sizes

It is important to know is what size objects you can scan. Typically speaking, Structure Sensor (Mark II) can scan objects as small as a grapefruit and as large as a medium-sized residential room.

If your objects are too small, you may need to add “tracking objects” to your scene. These are small objects that you can add to help give your scene more geometry that you will later crop out.

apple in a bounding box

The apple by itself is too small and tracking cannot be maintained.

apple with other objects in bounding box

When additional items are added to the scene, the sensor is able to maintain tracking. Extra objects can be removed from the scene later via various post-processing software.

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Sensor limitations

Structure Sensor (Mark II) is an amazing piece of hardware, but it has some limitations. We are working on software and firmware adjustments that will mitigate these limitations in the future.

Dark Objects
Structure Sensor (Mark II) captures its depth by using an infrared projection pattern. The IR lasers hit the objects and return to the sensor, and the sensor calculates the depth depending on how long it takes for the light to return.

Dark objects absorb the IR pattern, creating the illusion to the sensor that the dark objects aren’t there.

For now, we suggest applying a temporary paint or powder to your objects to allow them to be scanned.

Reflective Objects
Reflective, shiny objects scatter the IR pattern, confusing the sensor. This can lead to poor tracking or random, unintended artifacts. This can be mitigated by applying different IR gains and exposure settings, switching to “Depth Only” tracking, as well as by applying a temporary matte paint or powder to your object.

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Choosing your preset

Unlike the original Structure Sensor, Mark II has a lot more customization available for users. Selecting the correct preset is essential for successful scanning.

This is the preset you will use most of the time. It is a good middle ground for indoor scanning. The largest limitation is that it needs to be used indoors, and its minimum focal length is slightly longer than the Body Preset.

If you are intending on scanning an arm, a foot, or any other object that requires a free-floating, groundless bounding box, choose this preset.

One of Mark II’s greatest moves forward is the ability to scan outdoors. If you intend on doing a lot of scanning in sunlight, choose this preset. We also suggest turning on IR Auto Exposure, although this may introduce more noise into the scan.

This preset can be used both close range and long range, but it may be less accurate than either the Default preset or the Body preset.

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Now that you are aware of some of the presets Scanner offers, you're ready to start your first scan! Please follow these steps for maximum scanning success.

Setting your scene
To scan well, you need 360-degree access around your object. Additionally, your object should not be too low, nor too high. The perfect object is approximately waist-level, as this will give you easy access to scan both the tops and the bottoms of the object. Look for uniform, indirect light.

Starting your scan
Resize your bounding box by pinching in or pinching out. Your bounding box should be just slightly larger than your object. Too small, and parts of your object will be cut off. Too large, and you will have extremely poor resolution.

Position your object so that it is in the center of the bounding box. If you are accustomed to scanning with the original Structure Sensor, you will find that the focal length is longer with Mark II. When the majority of the object is masked in color, tap “Scan”.

Once you start your scan, move backwards slightly to help your sensor maintain tracking. Move slowly around your object, stopping every ten to fifteen degrees for several seconds to allow a full depth frame to be captured. Make sure to scan the top of your object to avoid having holes. When your object is covered entirely in white, tap “Done”.

Finishing your scan
When your scan is finished, you will see the finished mesh in three forms: depth, X-ray, and color. If you want color and texture data in your scans, you must select “color”; otherwise, your final file will only contain depth information.

If you are satisfied with your scan, tap “email”, enter your email address, and tap the upward pointing arrow to email your scan to yourself.

If you do not have this option, chances are you did not set up an email client on your iPad. To do so, please do so by checking out this article here:

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Post Processing

For post-processing work, including cropping, point-to-point measurements, mesh smoothing, and CAD file-compatible formats, we recommend either Blender or MeshLab.

Instructions on how to use these post processors is outside the scope of our support; however both programs are free to download and are professional grade, with plenty of tutorials available.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Why are my scans the wrong size?
OBJ files are inherently unitless; you can assign units and scale your scans within your preferred post-processing or slicer software. Simply scale your object to the size you prefer.

Why does my bounding box jump around?
This can happen for a large variety of reasons. For the most common reasons and solutions, please check out this article: Why Do I Keep Losing Tracking?

I send my scans via email, but I never receive them. What's going on?
Likely your emails are sitting in your Outbox. You can find information on how to fix this from Apple here.

Why are my color scans losing resolution? 
Colorized scans are automatically reduced to 50,000 polygons in order to save space. You can change this in the code itself. For more information and to download our Structure SDK (iOS) with the full Scanner Xcode Project, please visit our Developer Portal.

Why is this app so simple? Why don't you guys add more features?
The purpose of the Scanner SDK app is to give developers a launching point for their own apps, rather than to offer a fully robust scanning application for customers. If you wish for more full-featured apps, please check out the apps listed here.

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