Labelled as the "coolest new app at SXSW", new startup Arqball Spin allows you to create interactive 3D models from your iPhone.

1. Arqball Spin

Shopping online can be simple (sometimes), cheap and enjoyable – or it can test the most patient of digital shoppers.

Images are important to the success of most e-commerce sites. Customers want to see what something looks like before they buy. Even so, many online retailers don't take advantage of the digital space; with users viewing images they can't engage with during the purchase cycle.

Which is where Arqball Spin comes in...

Arqball Spin lets you easily capture, author, annotate, and share 3D visualizations of objects using your phone or tablet. Our technology enables novel applications in online commerce, marketing/advertising, education, and scholarship. Think: YouTube for 3D!

Arqball Spin offers a cheap answer for producing quality, interactive 3D models. The (free) iOS [iTunes] app enables users to create an interactive image by recording a spinning object with the iPhone/ iPad camera, with the first 5 "spins" on the house. For users wanting more, there will be a tiered pricing plan introduced very soon.

The one obvious downside is that users require a spinning platter to record their images with – but Arqball have released their own (which retails for $80-$100). The other downside of Arqball's offering is that their spinning plate is only large enough to accommodate objects not much bigger than an apple (the fruit).

Despite these drawbacks, Arqball was named "the coolest app at SXSW" by former Editor In Chief of TechCrunch, Erick Schonfeld. The software is all their own work as well with the six person team headed by founders Jason Lawrence and Abhi Shelat, both computer science professors at the University of Virginia.

We contacted Lawrence about the company's recent exposure and what they hope to create with the app.

SXSW and AppStore placement have given us a great burst of exposure. We are certainly still in the "early-adopter" phase and are doing everything we can to get stages to our customers as soon as possible.

We will be launching a blog and discussion forum soon with the goal of cultivating a community of users/hackers/sellers/etc. who all bring different goals and perspectives to our product. It's a very exciting time for us and we think we're on the cusp of revolutionizing user-generated 3D content by making tools for capturing/authoring/sharing easy to use, inexpensive, and widely available.