Embrace your inner Dr. Frankenstein with the Huawei Mate 20 Pro and this cool app

Is there a doctor in the house? If the Huawei Mate 20 Pro is in your hand, then the answer is yes. With this powerful phone, you can make your favorite toy come alive in front of your eyes, using augmented reality and a special 3D Live Maker app.

Prepare to shout, “It’s alive!” a lot, as we take you through how to use it.

The app

Huawei 3D Live Maker app
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The 3D Live Maker app does not come pre-installed on the Mate 20 Pro. Instead, you must either download it from Google Play, or from Huawei’s own App Gallery app. It currently only works on the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, the almost identical Porsche Design Mate 20 RS, and in the future the Honor View 20, because it requires the use of artificial intelligence chips like the Kirin 980, plus suitable 3D sensors and cameras.

Select an object to scan

Huawei 3D Live Maker app
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The first thing to do is select the right object to scan. The app says not to pick something that’s reflective, or made from metal, and says plush toys work best. When you do pick a plush toy, it should be something between 12cm and 35cm long. Based on our experience, it shouldn’t be too complicated-looking either. A simple teddy bear-shaped toy is ideal here, as anything with clothing or accessories confuses the process.

In case you’re interested, we use DU Bear in our video, the mascot for the Baidu search engine. Even here, the short legs and big head still cause problems for the app, which struggles to understand Du Bear does not have much of a body, and as a result the animation isn’t perfect.

How to scan an object

how to use 3d live maker app huawei 10

Open the app, and tap the Plus icon in the bottom right of the screen. The app uses the front camera on the Mate 20 Pro — because this has the 3D sensor technology — and therefore you have to hold the phone rather awkwardly, because you need to see the screen during the scan. You have to hold the phone at a 45-degree angle to the object, not too far away, and wait until the camera identifies there is an object to scan.

This needs some patience, and it absolutely needs the right item. You find out quickly if the object you’ve chosen isn’t suitable, because the camera will fail to recognize it. When it does, a blue square appears under the object. Now, tap the Scan button on the screen to move on to the next stage. A progress bar appears at the top of the screen. To scan the object in, you have to rotate the object so the camera can see the entire shape. The blue colors disappear as it’s recognized, the shading looks more like real-life, and the progress bar fills.

If you’re trying to scan something too complicated, this is very time-consuming, and you will get errors. If the object moves out of the camera’s view, it asks you to bring it back into focus by matching it up with a “ghost” on the screen. The more complex the item is, the longer this takes, and the more errors you get. We highly recommend picking something simple. Our DU Bear took just a few minutes to scan.

When the progress bar is full, you must manually stop the scan by pressing the Scan button again. The app now begins to build the 3D model. When it has finished, just tap the tick icon in the top corner of the screen.

Augmented reality tools

On the main screen of the app, tap the model you’ve just scanned in. The app can hold multiple scans of multiple toys. It will appear on screen and can be rotated and zoomed in to examine. Along the bottom of the screen are several options including share and delete, but we want to choose the one marked AR, for augmented reality.

The next screen needs you to manipulate the model so it’s facing the right way up and towards the camera, in portrait orientation. Tap next when you’re done, and the model will appear on the phone’s screen. In the bottom left is a virtual joystick for moving the model around the screen, along with a video record and a still photo button. However, we recommend tapping the AR button.

Now, point the camera at a flat surface — a table works best, but you can use the floor too — and let the phone recognize the space, indicated by a small progress circle on screen. When it’s done, the model will appear on it. Tap the button with the running man icon to find different auto controls like jump or ballet, or move the model around yourself with the virtual joystick. Again, you can record these activities using the on-screen controls.

Does it work?

Yes, it does, but don’t expect it to always look amazing, or do anything much outside of move around a bit. This isn’t a dig at the 3D Live Maker app, which is user-friendly and fast, but augmented reality technology generally is still a bit wonky. It’s fun to find a model and scan it in, then watch it wander around for a while. Once that’s done, there isn’t anything else to do. In the future this will change, and scanned in models could be used as avatars in games, and potentially for virtual assistants too.

For now, 3D Live Maker is a fun app that will engage kids for a little while, and amuse adults who want to see what augmented reality is all about.

Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.

How to perform a reverse image search in Android or iOS

You can quickly use Google to search, and reverse search, images on a PC or laptop, but did you know it's almost as easy to do in Android and iOS? We explain how to do it here, whether you want to use Chrome or a third-party app.

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.

Protect and style your Samsung Galaxy S10 with the best cases and covers

If you've splashed the cash for a shiny new Samsung Galaxy S10, then you'll want to take steps to protect your investment. With a metal frame and glass curves, the S10 needs some cover. Check out the best Samsung Galaxy S10 cases.
Health & Fitness

Nike’s Android app is bricking its $350 Adapt BB self-lacing shoes

A firmware update for Nike's new self-lacing Adapt BB shoe appears to be bricking the $350 footwear for some owners. Android users have said the Nike app no longer pairs with the shoe, rendering the tightening mechanism useless.

Where to buy the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e in the U.K.

The Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, and S10e have all been officially announced and can be pre-ordered right now, with deliveries expected on March 8. If you're in the U.K., this is where you need to go to buy one.

You can now pre-order the Samsung Galaxy S10, S10 Plus, or S10e

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is one of the most-anticipated phones of the year, offering a new chipset, beautiful display, and more. Now that the phone has been announced you might be wondering where you can get it for yourself.

Sony partnership with Light aims to take smartphone photography to new heights

Smartphone photography is in its ascendancy, and a new partnership between Light and Sony hopes to lift it to new heights through the development of multi-image sensor solutions for smartphones. We spoke to Light to find out more.

Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Google Pixel 3: Can Samsung beat the stock Android king?

The Samsung Galaxy S10 is here, offering modern specs, a beautifully high-resolution display, and an edge-to-edge design with a small cutout in the display for the front-facing camera. But can the phone take out the Google Pixel 3?

Protect your iPhone or iPad with the IPVanish VPN, on sale through February

One of our favorite virtual private networks for iPhones and iPads, IPVanish, is now offering a huge discount on its two-year subscription as part of its 7th-birthday promotion. Read on to find out more about how this VPN works and how you…

Verizon is launching real standards-based 5G in 30 cities in 2019

Verizon is in the midst of a massive 5G rollout. In addition to fixed 5G service, it will also begin deploying mobile 5G in the coming months. Here's everything you need to know about Verizon's 5G network and when it will be in your town.

Stay fit and save cash with our top 10 affordable Fitbit alternatives

As much as we love Fitbits, they're rather expensive. If all you want is a simple activity tracker, however, then check out these great cheap Fitbit alternatives. With offerings from brands like Garmin, you don't need to pay full price.

Samsung Galaxy S10e vs. OnePlus 6T: Can the Flagship Killer survive?

The Samsung Galaxy S10e is the new affordable flagship on the block, but at $750, it's $200 more than the OnePlus 6T. Does the Flagship Killer stand a chance against the new generation of flagship devices? Let's take a closer look.