Apple and its Lidar scanner

Astrid Baron - 09/12/2020

Apple and its Lidar scanner :

What is Apple's Lidar scanner really about? :

Apple has not finished surprising us. Constantly evolving technologically, the brand is back with a vengeance with new features for the ipad pro and iphone 12. The latest devices now feature an ultra-wide-angle camera, studio quality microphones and a revolutionary LiDAR scanner. LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) is a small, matte-black looking scanner that sits next to the camera.


Lidar and apple

But what is it used for? The article in Sciencesetavenir sheds some light on the subject. "Used for many years in the fields of archaeological researchcaving etc.... the LiDAR, also written simply lidar, allows to measuring the distance between a sensor and a target."The scanner uses a laser beam composed of multiple invisible points of light. Once the beam of light has reached its target, it returns to the scanner? This allows the device to accurately measure distances.

So one might ask: is this similar to Face ID? The Cnetfrance article discusses the subject. "Indeed, but with longer range. The idea is the same: Apple's TrueDepth camera, which enables Face ID, projects a series of infrared lasers, but can only work at close range. The lidar camera on the iPad Pro and iPhone 12 Pro, works up to 5 metres". Several videos have been made to demonstrate the capabilities of this depth scanner and 3D room capture.

What are its features?

Cnetfrance explains that "Apple promises a up to six times faster focusing in conditions of low light for the camera. Lidar is also used to improved night portrait mode effects.” Its long range (up to five meters), opens new perspectives for developers who can create a digital reproduction of a room very quickly. Moreover, the fact that the 3D analysis of the environment allows Apple's photo algorithms to detach the background from the foreground. This is essential for applying the blur of portrait mode - even in the most difficult conditions.

Information that third-party developers could use to imagine new applications. The Journal du Geek also informs us that "With Apple and its Lidar scanner, the range of applicationsfor such a sensor will be primarily dedicated to the analysis of the environment.use of such a sensor will be primarily dedicated to the augmented reality.” Initially, this sensor should improve the performance of ARKit, the augmented reality engine of the brand. The first field of application mentioned by Apple is to allow its "Measurements" application to calculate "more quickly the size of someone (...) and to measure objects with more precision and speed. While the use cases on a smartphone are not obvious, this technology is essential for augmented reality glasses. We will have the opportunity to zoom in again on Apple's secret AR glasses project.

How does lidar enhance augmented reality? :

Lidar, the Augmented Reality accelerator for Apple?

A quick reminder about augmented reality: AR combines all the interactions between the real world and virtual elements such as 3D, 2D images and geolocation. As mentioned, the primary use of LiDAR technology is in augmented reality. The sensor provides faster and more realistic AR experiences. A crucial point for augmented reality to work optimally isto create sufficient depth and a perfectly reconstructed 3D environment. This is exactly what this scanner is good for! Thus, applications offering, for example, to choose a piece of furniture from a distance by simulating its representation in the middle of one's living room, should be more accurate than before.

Entertainment applications will also benefit, like Snapchat which, during the Apple conference, unveiled a new filter, more advanced than the others, and reserved for the iPhone 12 Pro. 20minutes points out that "Apple is obviously not the first smartphone manufacturer to integrate such a sensor on its phones. Huawei and SamsungTo name but a few, Apple's have opted for "time of flight" sensors which behave in the same way as the LiDAR sensor to measure the distance of objects from the camera."But with more than 10,000 augmented reality apps in the App Store, we're only at the beginning of what Apple can offer. The iphonesoft blog. If 2021 will be the year of virtual reality, it's a safe bet that 2022 will be the year of augmented and mixed reality.


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