Back in March, Apple unveiled its latest generation iPad Pro, a big 12.9-inch tablet sporting for the first time a teensy 1-millimeter LiDAR sensor alongside its main camera cluster. On Tuesday, Apple revealed that the iPad is on longer the only device with that capability as the new iPhone 12 Pro models will ship with LiDAR scanners of their own.
LiDAR technology (Light Detection And Ranging) bounces pulses of light off of objects in the environment and measures their distance based on how long it takes for the light to reflect back. It’s a lot like radar but with lasers instead of radio waves. The last time you got pulled over by the Highway Patrol, the officer was more than likely using a LiDAR scanner to see if you were speeding.
Apple, however, leverages this technology to improve AR experiences by enabling apps to more quickly see and recognize the room around them. Doing so gives the apps a better sense of their environment so they can more accurately integrate their digital constructs into the user’s view of the physical world.
While this capability has been around since March, hefting a big, beefy iPad Pro around the house just to see if that AR IKEA couch will look good in your living room was a bit of a pain (in the arms). However with the iPhone 12 Pro’s more reasonable form factor, that experience should soon be much improved. Can’t wait to see if the company will end up incorporating a similar scanner into the rumored AR specs, which Apple has been supposedly working on for release in the next year or so.