What can the iPhone 12 LiDAR scanner do

LiDAR scanner is a relatively new tech in the smartphone scene or at least the type iPhone 12 series is. Unlike the scannerless LIDAR sensor such as the ToF sensor which has been on smartphones for a while now, this type allows for a more comprehensive 3D mapping. Smartphone cameras are going beyond peripheral photography and there is a push for more depth data as AR is becoming more mainstream. This feature is only available on the iPhone 12 Pro and The iPhone 12 Pro Max.

iPhone 12 LiDAR scanner
Image credit: SlashGear

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LiDAR which stands for “Light Detection and Ranging” uses the reflective property of light to gather more information. The LiDAR scanner on the iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max is not like the ToF sensor that uses a single pulse to map the subject. This uses multiple laser projection on the scene to actualize mapping by measuring the time it takes to reflect back to the scanner.

The scanner does not work alone. Together with AI and depth framework, the iPhone 12 cameras are able to do more in AR scenery. Here are some of the things the LiDAR scanner is capable of.

iPhone 12 LiDAR Scanner
  • Starting with the core function, the LiDAR scanner on the iPhone 12 series builds a more detailed depth map of different scenes. This works even better with the computational prowess of the A14 Bionic chipset and new ISP (image signal processor).
  • Room scanning is also another nice function of the LiDAR scanner. This helps construction and design enthusiast to obtain a reliable 3D map of a room as well as the object therein.
  • Photo and video effects become even more realistic. And in line with this, Snapchat also updated its Lens Studio, allowing developers to build Lenses that take advantage of the new iPhone LiDAR scanner.
  • The LiDar scanner will bring about the improvement of Autofocus and Portrait Mode in low light scenarios. This is because the scanner functions independently of external lighting. In other words, it beams IR pulse rays to the scene and information obtained from the collection of the rays as a result of its reflection from the surfaces. According to Apple, this improves accuracy, reduces capture time in photos, and improves autofocus in low light videos up to 6 times faster.
  • Lastly, you get an even better AR gaming experience due to the improved scene depth-mapping; AR projections blend seamlessly with the natural environment.
iPhone 12 LiDAR Scanner

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The Future of the LiDAR Scanner

There is still a long way to go before the LiDAR scanner system becomes as efficient as it can be and developers have not exactly keyed into the feature being available on smartphones. Algorithms also have to be perfected to reduce the signal-to-noise ratio and improve the accuracy of the readings. Nonetheless, the iPhone 12 series LiDAR scanner will do more for AR in the smartphone scene.


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