Microsoft Research recently revealed a new project that the team has been working on. It’s called MobileFusion and it enables a phone to capture an accurate 3D image of an object for 3D printing. It removes any need for a 3D scanner, which can cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars, and is as easy as snapping a photo or filming a video, Microsoft said.

“What this system effectively allows us to do is to take something similar to a picture, but it’s a full 3D object,” explained Oxford University Ph.D. student Peter Ondruska, who worked as an intern on the project with Microsoft Research.

Microsoft said that objects scanned by the mobile software can easily be used for 3D printing or for insertion into virtual reality applications. The latter seems particularly compelling, and you can see an example of how MobileFusion was used to scan objects such as statues and even a human into digital form in the video below.

MobileFusion is just a research project for now, and while the team is working to build a version that can be used on iOS, Android and Windows Phone, there’s no guarantee that it’s ever going to be available to the public. It does show, however, that our phones are more than capable of serving as 3D scanners, which is pretty incredible.