iPhone LiDAR Scanner

LiDAR Sensor Explained – Apple’s Party trick

LiDAR Sensor Explained – Apple’s Party trick

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  • Post last modified:April 30, 2023
  • Post category:Tech
  • Post comments:1 Comment
  • Reading time:10 mins read
LiDAR Scanner

If you have been paying close attention to Apple’s top tier iPhones and the iPad pro from 2020 then you might have come across the LiDAR sensor which is built in as part of their camera system. But what is the working principle behind this sensor?

LiDAR stands for light detection and ranging. In contrast with RADAR ( Radio detection and ranging) LiDAR utilizes infrared light emitted by the LiDAR sensor to scan its surroundings instead of radio waves. Basically, the infrared light it emits bounces off surfaces to give an accurate 3D render of the surroundings based on precise distance that it measures.

Samsung Galaxy Note 10+

On the contrary (ToF) time of flight which is notably in most high end Samsung phones including Samsung galaxy S21 Ultra, this system utilizes a single point of reference while the LiDAR sensor on apple devices uses multiple reference points hence more accurate.

Why is LiDAR suddenly in High end Apple products?

LiDAR Scanner on the iPad

Apple is currently implementing this sensor into the Ipad pro and the top end Iphones due to its upcoming Apple glasses which will rely mainly on Augmented Reality to function. This is where the LIDAR scanner comes into play. Apart from that the future of Augmented Reality is looking very bright. From AR games to buying and getting precise size of furniture online for our house.

Other uses of LiDAR scanner;

Autonomous Cars.

LiDAR Scanner on Autonomous cars

LIDAR is currently being implemented on Self driving cars. In contrast with RADAR LIDAR is able to accurately determine objects in its vicinity hence making autonomous cars more reliable. Though it is a cool and very useful technology In car automation. Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk has been a great critic of this technology.

Improving phone Camera System.

iPhone camera interface

Apple claims that the LiDAR scanner improves Auto focus speeds up to 6X as compared to previous models. In addition to that portrait photos are more accurate with the blurred backgrounds appearing perfect leaving the subject in focus.

AR Games and Apps .

AR Maps

With apps like measure on the App store it is a lot easier to measure dimensions of photo frames, TV size and it can even body height with just pointing the camera towards a subject. This technology is not new though, It has been around for over 40 years dating back to 1960’s.

Thoughts on this……

iPad Measure app

The main goal of having this sensor especially on a phone is to improve the camera system and also create an environment where AR developers can create more apps and games to take advantage of this. Currently there are a plethora of Apps and games which certainly take advantage of this sensor.

Cool AR apps and Games which take advantage of this sensor.


iPhone Measure app

The measure apps is a free app that comes with Apple devices. It aims to measure size, distance and also determine the dimension of objects. It is so insane how you can measure say the diagonal length of a table with just one click of a button.

This app can also be used to measure how level a surface is. With such an app, you can leave your ruler and tape measures behind. (Though it is accurate about 98% of the time, you should avoid it where high precision is required)

Canvas : Pocket 3D scanner.

Canvas : Pocket 3D scanner

Are you looking for an app that can scan your room and provide a 3D render of the room? Then Canvas is the app.

1.To use the app, first locate the room that you want to scan.

2.Move your device around the room until you align with the virtual grids.

3.Wait for the app to generate a 3D render of your room.

And that’s it.

You can now take virtual tours around your room. How cool is that!!

IKEA Place.

IKEA Place app

This is by far one of my favorite apps. For example, if you need to buy say a furniture for your house but your not sure if it will fit in a certain spot, this is where the app comes into play.

Basically, the LiDAR scanner accurately determines the distance and dimension of that area you want to place the furniture then it generates a virtual image of that furniture in the spot that you want. And with those easy steps, it saves a lot of time and effort. The fun does not end there as you can use it when buying desks, shelves, chairs, lamps and so much more.

Hot lava.

Hot lava game

However simple and basic this game is, it is nonetheless fun to play. All you have to do is open AR games mode in your iPhone, then create your own lava on the floor and at all costs DO NOT step on the lava. You can play it along with your friends or just by yourself,

RC club.

RC Club AR Game

RC club is a fun and engaging game which uses the LiDAR scanner to generate a car which you can drive around in your room. What’s more surprising is that it is very accurate on it’s surroundings such that say when it hits a wall the car responds by overturning as is If It was in reality.

If you have a bigger room you can generate a racetrack and the boundaries are just limited. Just keep in mind, though it is free some upgrades will run you down a couple of dollars less.


RC Club AR Game

Apart from Apple, bigger companies such as Oculus Rift which is a subsidiary of Facebook are also major players in the AR and VR industry. With this technology, the boundaries are limitless and I cant wait to see what the future holds for this revolutionary tech.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Carson Anekeya

    Well explained. Thanks for sharing.

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