123D Catch is a free iPad app from Autodesk. The app makes it possible to turn your pictures into a 3D model that you can manipulate on your iPad. To create a model with the app select a physical object that you can photograph with your iPad. Then take a series of pictures of that object as you either walk around it or rotate it slowly as you take pictures of it. Then select the best images from those that you took (20+ images works best) to let Autodesk process and turn into a 3D model for you. Completed 3D models can be shared to the Autodesk community where others can view and use them.
123D Catch could be a great app for creating virtual manipulatives to use in a math or science lesson. The app could also be used to create 3D models of interesting landmarks that you visit during a vacation, but that your students would otherwise only see in 2D pictures.
A few tips about using 123D Catch based on things that I messed up the first time I tried the app. First, make sure your object is stationary when you take pictures of it. I tried to make a 3D model of my dog, but he kept wiggling which made many of my images usable. Second, if you do not capture pictures from all sides of an object your 3D model will look like it was cut in half. Third, processing of images can take up to ten minutes depending on your wi-fi connection and how many images you have. Click here for Autodesk’s official tutorials.
123D Catch is a free app. Students of all ages can access and manipulate the public models. To create a model you do have to have an email address.