What is the LiDAR on iPhone 12 Pro and pro max?

Do you know what is the LiDAR technology which is used in the latest apple devices like iPhone 12 pro and iPhone 12 pro max? After reading this article you will know that this technology has a long history in martial and aerospace technologies and perhaps it will have a prominent place in the future of iPhone smartphone technology as well. Also you will be acquainted with a similar technologies i.e. Android phones’ Time of Flight. 

A brief definition of LiDAR technology

LiDAR is an abbreviation for “Light Detection And Ranging”. It’s a technology for determining distances to objects using lasers by calculating the time it takes for infrared rays to reach an object and reflect to where it was sent from. By this method, the three-dimensional shape of objects in the scene can be recognized with all its dimensions in a very short time.

Many maps have been obtained using this technique. And for this LiDAR itself isn’t enough, and it needs GPS (Global Positioning System) for the detection of object’s location and IMU (Inertial Measuring Unit) for the detection of the direction of motion, rotation and rolling. 

And before this the RaDAR (Radio Detection And Ranging) technology was used frequently.  The difference between this and LiDAR is the type of radiation used, in LiDAR infrared waves is used while in RaDAR radio waves is used.

Furthermore, there are similar systems used in nature. For example, the same idea is used in bats creation where it doesn’t see by its eyes but by emitting ultrasound and calculating the time it takes for a round-trip. Because of this we see bats flying quickly without crashing anything, even though they are blind and can’t see at all.

LiDAR technology in Apple devices

Eventually, the LiDAR technology was integrated in the iPhone’s cameras. It is a triple camera on iPhone 12 pro and pro max. It isn’t the first time LiDAR is used in Apple devices. It was used previously in iPad Pro 2020. Also similar technologies is used by other smartphone manufacturers like Samsung, LG, Huawei and Google.

LiDAR in iPad pro 2020

By using algorithms and computational photography, LiDAR helps achieving a better sense of depth. But this isn’t the case for iPad pro which lacks even a portrait mode for its rear camera. Actually LiDAR is only used for improving AR experience and its applications. LiDAR helps achieving a better scan of the scene and its objects so that a better synthesis of virtual and real objects would happen and the augmented reality would appear more real.

LiDAR scanner works well with augmented reality applications, but it doesn’t allow a three-dimensional scan enough accurate for use in three-dimensional printers. If it was available, it would make iPad pro more deserving of the title “pro”. Notably, just a few iPad applications use LiDAR.

Applications of LiDAR in iPhone 12 pro, currently and in future

1-Improving augmented reality experience:

Apple claims that iPhone 12 pro supports a more natural augmented reality experience thanks to LiDAR technology. Because it can make a map of the entire room with more accurate details, so that virtual objects can be merged into it better and more natural. For example, the virtual objects can move between real objects more naturally.

2-Measuring distances and dimensions:

You can measure your distance to an object and the dimensions of the object by the new iPhone 12 pro and pro max equipped with LiDAR technology.

3- taking selfies rapidly:

LiDAR camera in iPhone 12 pro makes autofocus 6 times more rapid even in low light. A better sense of the depth improves portraits in night mode. The similar ToF technology is used in Android phones to achieve this goal.  

4- Mapping outside and inside

The LiDAR’s purpose had been mapping originally. For example, when Apolo 15 made a map from moon in 1971. And this can happen in a smaller scale in smartphones.

5-Control with gesture:

As it is possible to use LiDAR for detection of barriers accurately, smartphones can detect gestures. So it can respond to your gestures and obey your orders without even touching the screen.

6- Smart Home:

There has been a rival between Google and Amazon in the field of smart home in recent years. And it has gone beyond smart speakers like Echo and Home. Also Google has Nest and Amazon Ring. LiDAR has improved night vision of Nest security cameras as well as the photography.

ToF technology used in Samsung devices and its comparison with LiDAR

ToF (abbreviation for Time of Flight) is a technology used in Samsung flagship mobiles like Galaxy S20 Ultra and Galaxy Note 10 Plus. In this technology the time taken for a round trip to and from an object is measured to calculate the distance to hat object.

ToF differs from LiDAR in that the former emits just one ray but the latter emits many rays. This leads to a better scanning of the scene by LiDAR and producing a better photo. The former is intended for a better sense of the depth of the objects in the scene for a better portrait while the latter’s main aim is a better AR experience.

Final Word:

In this article we talked about LiDAR, its definition and its uses especially in iPhone 12 pro and pro max. We also mentioned the similar systems in past and present in other manufacturers devices. If you know any other uses of LiDAR please let us know about it too by leaving a comment below!