AR/VR

Published on October 15th, 2020 | by Emergent Enterprise

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Apple Adds LiDAR Scanner to iPhone 12 Pro for “Instant AR” & Depth Mapping

Emergent Insight:
The stage just got bigger for mainstream augmented reality. With the LiDAR scanner on the thousands of iPhone 12 Plus smartphones that will be sold in the coming months, AR software developers now have many more potential users. An overview of the LiDAR scanner is posted by Ben Lang at Road to VR explaining its features and potential. Apple is continuing to make AR more mainstream through this IPhone 12 announcement and the recent iPad Pro release. What’s next? Apple Glass? It appears that the groundwork is being laid for all of us to be wearing AR glasses in the not too distant future.

Original Article:
Image courtesy Apple

Apple today introduced its latest lineup of smartphones, including the iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max, both of which are equipped with a LiDAR scanner which will bolster AR capabilities.

Like the iPad Pro introduced earlier this year, Apple is now bringing a LiDAR scanner to its high-end smartphones, the new iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max.

LiDAR is a so-called ‘time of flight’ depth-sensor which measures how long it takes for light to bounce off of objects in the scene and return to the sensor. With precise timing, the information is used to judge the depth of each point. With rich depth information, augmented reality experiences can be faster and more accurate.

Image courtesy Apple

While existing iPhones are already capable of pretty good AR tracking, the current approach derives depth from computer-vision techniques like SLAM, which tracks points in the scene over time to infer depth. Typically this means that the system needs a few seconds and some movement from the camera before it can understand its frame of reference and begin to assess the depth of the scene.

Apple says that LiDAR in the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max means the phones will be capable of “instant AR.” That’s because LiDAR captures depth information in the equivalent of a ‘single photo’, without any phone movement or the need to compare images across time.

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