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Epic Games has a new app for capturing photogrammetry assets on your phone

Want to scan your favorite coffee mug into your game? There's an app for that (in beta).

Epic Games has a fun new tool for game developers. In advance of this week's State of Unreal, the company has debuted RealityScan, a new (free!) 3D scanning app that turns photos of objects into high-fidelity 3D models.

RealityScan is a new app developed in partnership with photogrammetry toolmakers CapturingReality and Quixel (Epic purchased CapturingReality in last year's acquisitions sweep). As shown off in an introductory video, the tool works by assembling a full 3D asset using multiple photos taken of an object. 

After creating the asset, RealityScan users can upload their creations to Sketchfab for their own use, or to license out to other developers. 

Epic did say that the app isn't quite ready for primetime yet. It's only available in limited beta for the first 10,000 users on iOS. You can find more information on joining the beta here.

Photogrammetry has been available to developers for a few years now, but for the most part it's required skilled technicians and specialized equipment to properly capture real-world objects for in-game environments. Expanding access to the tool via everyday smartphones is both revolutionary and raises huge legal and ethical questions.

For instance, if a developer wanted to scan their favorite coffee mug and use it in a game, would the mug's designer have any claim on copyright? Would that claim still hold if the developer modified the mug after acquiring the asset? How does that copyright license extend to the design of a chair? A specialized lamp? What about an action figure or toy that's based on licensed intellectual property? 

It will be neat to see what developers create with this brand-new tech—hopefully the appearance of real-world objects doesn't correlate with instances of abuse as well. 

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