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.

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.

Verify your depth feed

The first thing you want to make sure of is that you have good depth coverage. To test this, first clean your sensor’s glass plate with alcohol and a microfiber cloth. Then, open the Structure app (downloadable here:, wait for your sensor to initialize, and then 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 feed Poor depth feed

Acceptable object sizes

If your depth feed is good, the next thing you need 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.

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

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.

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.

Shiny 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.

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. It’s biggest limitation: it requires a ground plane. 


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.


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 over, 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:

Open your scan on your computer. 

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.

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.

Still having issues? Please send a screen recording to For instructions on creating a screen recording, please check out this article by Apple:

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