Lidar is the iPad Pro’s Unexpected New Feature

Apple announced that their newest iPad Pro model tablets would go on sale with a suite of new features and tools. Rather than sticking to depth-sensing cameras, Apple has incorporated a lidar sensor on board the iPad itself – a first for Apple.

The two new iPad Pro models that have a lidar scanning onboard are the 11 and 12.9-inch models, and are designed to enhance 3D photography as well as support developers that are using ARKit for the development of augmented reality (AR) apps.

Rather than using a third-party lidar, they seem to have developed their own proprietary version that they are simply referring to as “LiDAR Scanner.” It has a reported range of 5 metres, and “operates at the photon level at nanosecond speeds” which, one can assume means it is some flavour of the small lidar sensors that we’ve been hearing a lot about lately. The benefit of this range might be to fill in smaller, more detailed areas that larger-scale scans have difficulty with.

Fundamentally, the iPad Pro’s lidar is used to create depth mapping points that, when combined with camera and motion sensor data, can create a “more detailed understanding of a scene” according to Apple. With the help of the lidar sensor, the ARKit app can get better placement of real world and augmented reality objects, better motion capture, and occlusion – all of which help an augmented reality experience seem even more realistic. A scene does not need a long “scanning” period before AR objects can be placed, which makes for a more seamless integration of AR elements. API developers can also use the new lidar scanner to push beyond what’s currently possible using only depth cameras.

Read more in article…

Share this