I want to scan non-residential environments. Will Canvas work outside of the home?

The Short Answer

Canvas was purpose-built and optimized for scanning residential environments. We've seen many customers use it successfully and regularly across all kinds of spaces (including residential, retail, commercial, industrial, and even archaeological!), but you may run into certain limitations using Canvas outside of its intended purpose.

It’s important to note that there is nothing within the app that will prevent you from scanning non-residential spaces and requesting their conversion into CAD files via Scan To CAD. However, we recommend reading this FAQ in full to set your expectations appropriately and approaching your use case with an experimental spirit, as there may be a few aspects of using Canvas that require more attention or workarounds. 

As always, if you have any questions about using Canvas for a particular project or industry, simply send us an email at support@canvas.io

The Long Answer

Using Canvas outside the home is very possible, and we see it all the time. However, depending on your use case, you may run into the following limitations (besides just seeing the word "Home" in lots of places that won't be accurate).

Scanning range 

Apple's LiDAR sensor has a range of 5m. Given that you can walk around a space as you scan, these range limits are generally only an issue when capturing certain elements or environments like:

  • Tall ceilings (e.g. warehouses) and any relevant details on or near them (windows, beams, etc)
  • Tall structures or equipment (e.g. tanks)

These circumstances don’t happen often in a home, but in commercial and industrial environments, they are more common.


Across the case studies we've run with professionals out in the field — using Canvas and Scan To CAD on real-world projects — we see that most measurements in the final CAD file generated are within 1-2% of what's verified manually by tape measure, laser range-finder, or existing blueprint. You can read more about Canvas and accuracy here.

In a very large commercial or industrial space, that relative error can add up to much larger absolute errors. It can also require more scans, which can be more error-prone to merge together depending on the available reference. 

Of course, these challenges (cost and accuracy) are present when measuring large spaces the old fashion way as well!

Highly reflective, transparent, or dark surfaces

Such surfaces can cause issues with most kinds of 3D sensors. In a home, this typically is limited to things like bathroom mirrors and reflective kitchen appliances, but it's easy to scan around them (or they’re small enough that they have a negligible impact).

In commercial and industrial environments, this might be the norm, and you may find the model "slips" more while scanning or creates errors in the scan.


Canvas works best when there are lots of “features” in the scene — edges, detail, patterns, etc. This is why Canvas can struggle if you get too close to a wall: the only thing it sees is blank white for many frames in a row during your scan, and it loses track of where you are.   

Low or no lighting can have a similar effect in that these details are difficult to discern, and Canvas has trouble maintaining tracking of where you are in the scan you’re creating. 

In many industrial environments, adequate lighting can be a challenge. If you plan on scanning in dark environments, we recommend buying a light source to attach to your device, which can reduce the chances of a stationary lamp creating moving shadows. 

CAD over-simplification

Scan To CAD is highly optimized for residential environments, so you may find equipment or features only common in commercial or industrial spaces are over-simplified or missed entirely. Subtle details such as a control panel’s knobs and switches will likely not be included, but as a general layout of what’s in the scene and where, Scan To CAD usually provides more than enough information.

A common question we receive is if Canvas and Scan To CAD can capture and process piping or conveyor belts. Canvas does capture this information in the scan, but they are often missed or simplified (beyond the level needed for commercial or industrial applications) by our standard Scan To CAD pipeline and require extra human effort and/or be less precise. Further, they can often be difficult to scan properly because it can be difficult to follow our recommended scanning techniques with lots of equipment or pipes in the way.

Vehicles, etc.

Canvas is purpose-built for residential interiors and not for vehicles, boats, RV's, or similar objects. In the past, we have attempted to convert these types of spaces for convenience, but ultimately, we've found there is oversimplification and the resulting CAD files do not convey the nuanced details or curves that are expected. These conversions are also often very dependent on manual modeling which Scan To CAD is not priced for. As such, we no longer convert these objects to CAD and the scans will be rejected from our Scan To CAD process.

However, you can certainly scan vehicles, and more, with Canvas. The scan can be viewed, measured and shared, and you can export it as an .OBJ file- all at no cost.