LiDAR and People Detection

(13 January 2021 12:00 am)

LiDAR stands for light detection and ranging and it is a 3 dimensional mapping technology similar to radar and sonar. It is used in self driving cars, factory floor robots and robot vacuum cleaner to navigate the world around them by sending out laser beams and analysing the return time of the beam to generate the map.

The technology is now becoming more accurate, cheaper and smaller and has started to be installed in mobile devices.

A LiDAR scanner has been added to the iPhone 12 Pro by the camera lenses on the back of the phone. It uses bouncing light to determine the world around you up to about 5 meters. Its primary purpose is to improve augmented reality (AR) where digital data is overlaid onto real images eg IKEA Place app to move and visualise virtual furniture in your room. There are some other apps, particularly augmented reality games, that are already using this technology and developers are working to take advantage of this technology to improve the quality and functionality.

People Detection has been added to the Magnifier app on the iPhone and it uses the LiDAR scanner to detect people and notify you with sound, speech or haptic feedback. The feedback gets more frequent as the person gets closer.

An iPhone 12 Pro costs from £999 so it is an expensive option. With all new features they are initially added to the top of the line models, but over time they are included into the rest of the product line.

The BBC Click program has covered this new technology and blind reporter Lucy Edwards tried it out on her local high street, to view the program click here.


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