The digitization of the 3D shape of real objects is a rapidly expanding discipline, with a wide variety of applications, including shape acquisition, inspection, reverse engineering, gauging and robot navigation. Developments in computer product design techniques, automated production, and the need for close manufacturing tolerances will be facts of life for the foreseeable future. A growing need exists for fast, accurate, portable, non-contact 3D sensors. However, in order for 3D scanning to become more commonplace, new methods are needed for easily, quickly and robustly acquiring accurate full geometric models of complex objects using low cost technology. In this paper, a brief survey is presented of current scanning technologies available for acquiring range data. An overview is provided of current 3D-shape acquisition using both active and passive vision techniques. Each technique is explained in terms of its configuration, principle of operation, and the inherent advantages and limitations. A separate section then focuses on the implications of scannerless scanning for hand held technology, after which the current status of 3D acquisition using handheld technology, together with related issues concerning implementation, is considered more fully. Finally, conclusions for further developments in handheld devices are discussed. This paper may be of particular benefit to new comers in this field.