This could be the most important design advancement in years. Not since the Pantone color-capturer have you been able to preserve something from your travels and recreate it at home as a 3D model. Hook up a 3D printer, and...

There are a couple of problems that I can see with Photofly, however—it works by overlapping around 40 photos, to detect the exact measurements of the object, within 99 per cent accuracy of the real thing. You may have some trouble snapping 40 photos of something without being detected by the hovering museum curator or shop assistant, to say the least.

Obviously there are other cool things you could do with Photofly, which don't infringe on an artist or companies' copyright. Take 40 photos of your dog, and you can create a 3D model of him. Or of your house!

The second problem is that the software is only compatible with Windows at the moment, which will puzzle and infuriate design nerds who use OS X. Apparently the software gives the user a choice of viewing the 3D model as a wireframe model, or as an actual object with color and texture.

Released next week as a free download, there are a bunch of videos of Photofly in use over at Autodesk's website now [Autodesk via Technology Review]

UPDATE: AutoDesk tells me you only need 40 photos if you want an ultra-precise 3D model, and that you can still create something from only a couple of images, if need be.