Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry

A virtual analysis of the precision and accuracy of 3-dimensional ear casts generated from smartphone camera images

Published:February 26, 2021DOI:


      Statement of problem

      The anatomic complexity of the ear challenges conventional maxillofacial prosthetic rehabilitation. The introduction of specialized scanning hardware integrated into computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD-CAM) workflows has mitigated these challenges. Currently, the scanning hardware required for digital data acquisition is expensive and not readily available for prosthodontists in developing regions.


      The purpose of this virtual analysis study was to compare the accuracy and precision of 3-dimensional (3D) ear models generated by scanning gypsum casts with a smartphone camera and a desktop laser scanner.

      Material and methods

      Six ear casts were fabricated from green dental gypsum and scanned with a laser scanner. The resultant 3D models were exported as standard tessellation language (STL) files. A stereophotogrammetry system was fabricated by using a motorized turntable and an automated microcontroller photograph capturing interface. A total of 48 images were captured from 2 angles on the arc (20 degrees and 40 degrees from the base of the turntable) with an image overlap of 15 degrees, controlled by a stepper motor. Ear 1 was placed on the turntable and captured 5 times with smartphone 1 and tested for precision. Then, ears 1 to 6 were scanned once with a laser scanner and with smartphones 1 and 2. The images were converted into 3D casts and compared for accuracy against their laser scanned counterparts for surface area, volume, interpoint mismatches, and spatial overlap. Acceptability thresholds were set at <0.5 mm for interpoint mismatches and >0.70 for spatial overlap.


      The test for smartphone precision in comparison with that of the laser scanner showed a difference in surface area of 774.22 ±295.27 mm2 (6.9% less area) and in volume of 4228.60 ±2276.89 mm3 (13.4% more volume). Both acceptability thresholds were also met. The test for accuracy among smartphones 1, 2, and the laser scanner showed no statistically significant differences (P>.05) in all 4 parameters among the groups while also meeting both acceptability thresholds.


      Smartphone cameras used to capture 48 overlapping gypsum cast ear images in a controlled environment generated 3D models parametrically similar to those produced by standard laser scanners.
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