If there’s one feature that was added to the iPad that makes zero sense to me, it’s the camera. Not the front-facing camera, mind you. That one I understand, since it’s ideal for video chat using FaceTime or Skype.
I’m talking about the rear-facing camera. Is there anything more unnatural than capturing photos or videos by holding a 10-inch slab in front of you?
That hasn’t stopped some people from using it, however. I’ve seen a few tourists in D.C. taking snapshots of the monuments with the device. But that doesn’t make it any less awkward.
California-based Autodesk (Nasdaq: ADSK), however, has released a new application that finally provides a worthwhile use of the iPad camera by giving average consumers the ability to create designs for the burgeoning 3-D printing industry.
3-D Printing Builds Momentum
As you know, we’re following 3-D printing technology very closely. I’ve covered several innovative applications already, like Organovo’s (OTCQB: ONVO) ability to print human tissue and organs from scratch, and MakerBot’s $1,300 Replicator printer aimed at consumers.
And in October, Wall Street Daily’s Chief Investment Strategist, Louis Basenese, told readers that “it’s time to officially put 3-D printing… on your watch list.”
He’s also been profiling the technology extensively in WSD Insider since 2010, when he told readers that the tech is “already garnering interest in several high-profile ways… NASA’s using it on the International Space Station and requiring it for all deep-space missions. The U.S. Army’s experimenting with it on the battlefield to repair mission-critical military equipment.”
In fact, WSD Insider subscribers have already profited handsomely from the trend. Louis’ initial recommendation generated gains of 135%. Then he recommended the stock again in August and shares have since climbed 73%. (By the way, Louis still considers the stock a “Buy.” Here’s how to gain access to his research on the subject.)
Now Autodesk is carving out its own niche in the space, with the iPad’s camera taking center stage.
The Only Reason You Should Be Using the iPad Camera
You likely recognize Autodesk from its popular AutoCAD design software. Engineers, architects and developers have used the company’s products for years to create 3-D models of anything from buildings and bridges to electric cars and visual effects for the movie industry.
The company’s already involved in the 3-D printing space, too, since Autodesk provides ways to create designs that can be used as models for 3-D printers. But its new application for the iPad makes this process dead simple.
It’s called 123D Catch. Essentially, the free app involves taking several pictures – yes, using an iPad – of an object. The software magically pieces the images together to make a 3-D representation. Users can then feed the design into a 3-D printer to instantly manufacture a replica.
Check out the video below to see how it works.
It looks pretty impressive, and it certainly makes 3-D printing more accessible for the average consumer, which should allow Autodesk to hitch a ride on the industry’s growth in the near future.
We’ll be sure to check out Autodesk’s earnings this Thursday to see if the company has any more plans to expand its reach in the 3-D printing space. Keep an eye out for this week’s Friday Briefing for an update.