Meet the man behind the first 3D sensor designed for mobile

Josiah Motley · September 1, 2016 · Short URL:

The Structure Sensor from Occipital adds multiple 3D scanning options to your existing devices

It seems like only yesterday that augmented reality and 3D scanning were just conference talks and ideas. Fast forward a bit and a multitude of companies are now leveraging the power of 3D scanning and augmented reality to provide a number of services. One such company, Occipital, is working on making it accessible to nearly everyone, with a powerful tool called Structure Sensor.

We had chance to talk with Occipital to learn more about the Structure Sensor, what powers it, and how it can be used by everyone from the gaming industry to interior designers and real estate firms. Check out the interview below!

Structure Sensor


Vator: Care to introduce yourself and your role with Occipital?

My name is Jeff Powers, and I am the co-founder and CEO of Occipital.


Briefly, what is Structure Sensor?

Structure Sensor is a compact 3D sensor designed to attach to iPad and other popular mobile devices. You can use it to capture a 3D model of your living room, or to create 3D miniature models of your friends and family. You can use it to experiment with advanced mixed reality, where virtual content blends seamlessly with the real world around you. We call these “spatial computing” applications - and Structure Sensor is a spatial computing device designed for everyday use.


It's modeled for iPads, but can work with other products right? And not just iOS, but Android, as well?

We designed the Structure Sensor to be adaptable by design. It can be used with pretty much any current OS or device, including iPhones and Android devices, or even industrial robots and medical devices. But our cutting edge software really is the secret sauce making Structure Sensor so unique. So far, we’ve released the full SDK only on iOS for now. iOS, and iPad specifically, is where the Structure Sensor developer community has focused on building applications.

Structure Sensor for iPad

Why should people be excited for the Structure Sensor and its 3D mapping?

Think of the way you share a 3D space with someone today – you take a bunch of photos or a shaky video, and send those.  The recipient, at best, gets a vague understanding.  With Structure Sensor, you can quickly capture and send a realistic replica of your surroundings that someone can fly around in by swiping their screen.

It’s a radically different experience.  And with a replica of a space in your pocket, you can use it any time you want for measurements or visualizations.  And beyond spaces, Structure Sensor can map people and objects into photorealistic scale-accurate models which you can preserve forever. Basically, this kind of technology is set to change the way you capture and digitally interact with things around you.

Structure Sensor lets you start to experience (and if you’re a developer, have a hand in) the way computing is going to work five years from now.

augmented reality

What kinds of industries can benefit from the 3D mapping of Structure Sensor? Could the real estate market use it?

In the gaming industry, people are starting to use Structure Sensor to import people realistically into video games and VR.  In the interior design industry, people are using Structure Sensor to capture models of rooms and use those to interact with designers. In real estate, you can build models of entire spaces for purchase or rent, although these models are best paired with panoramic photography.

One industry that surprised us is the medical industry, where over a dozen Structure Sensor apps have been launched. We actually never expected this – but as it turns out, 3D capture has been used in the medical world for decades. It just used to cost tens of thousands of dollars and had a high learning curve. Structure Sensor has changed that and is becoming the de-facto device for a number of areas like orthotics and prosthetics.


Anything exciting coming from the team at Occipital?

Yes. That’s all I can say for now.

Intriguing. That's all the questions we have, anything you'd like to close with?

A lot of the things we envisioned simply weren’t possible years ago because the devices we used every day weren’t powerful enough. Modern smartphones, as well as the upcoming wave of AR/VR HMDs, represent a massive step forward in the compute and display capabilities of mobile devices. It’s exciting to be part of this industry as it enters a kind of golden age.

We'd like to thank Jeff for taking the time to answer some of our questions, if you'd like to learn more about the Structure Sensor, check out the website here.


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Josiah Motley

Contributor at various blogs, with a focus on tech, apps, gadgets, and gaming.

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