Apple’s new iPad Pro includes a LiDAR scanner, enabling a host of Augmented Reality-based features

In Augmented Reality and Mixed Reality News

March 19, 2020 – Apple has announced its most advanced iPad Pro, which features the A12Z Bionic chip, an ultra wide camera, studio-quality mics and a LiDAR scanner that delivers depth-sensing capabilities.

“The new iPad Pro introduces advanced technologies never before available in mobile computing,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing. “Combining the most advanced mobile display with powerful performance, pro cameras, pro audio, the breakthrough LiDAR Scanner and new Magic Keyboard with Trackpad, this is another huge leap forward for iPad. There’s no other device in the world like the new iPad Pro and we think our customers are going to love it.”

The LiDAR Scanner, along with pro cameras and motion sensors, further enhances the augmented reality capabilities of Apple’s iPad Pro device. The scanner measures the distance to surrounding objects up to 5 meters away, works both indoors and outdoors, and operates at the photon level at nano-second speeds, according to Apple. New depth frameworks in iPadOS combine depth points measured by the LiDAR Scanner, data from both cameras and motion sensors, and is enhanced by computer vision algorithms on the A12Z Bionic for a more detailed understanding of a scene. The integration of these elements enables “a whole new class of AR experiences on iPad Pro”, Apple states.

The company has also confirmed that every existing ARKit app automatically gets instant AR placement, improved motion capture and people occlusion. Using the latest update to ARKit with a new Scene Geometry API, developers will be able to harness the power of the new LiDAR Scanner to create exciting new AR scenarios.

Apple has highlighted several examples where its new LiDAR scanner will benefit users. One such example being the ‘Measure’ app, where the LiDAR Scanner will help to improve the app, making it faster and easier to automatically calculate someone’s height, while helpful vertical and edge guides automatically appear to let users more quickly and accurately measure objects. The Measure app also now comes with Ruler View for more granular measurements and allows users to save a list of all measurements, complete with screenshots for future use.

The enhancements to ARKit and the depth sensor in the new iPad Pro have also allowed the developers behind ‘Complete Anatomy’ to introduce a new mobility assessment tool for physical therapists and their patients by empowering them with quantified information on their progress, tracking their mobility improvements throughout their recovery.

Additionally, with the IKEA app on the new iPad Pro, the new Studio Mode for IKEA Place (available later this year) harnesses the iPad Pro’s LiDAR Scanner and ARKit to go beyond placing individual furniture and allows users to instead furnish entire rooms in AR. With Studio Mode, users can explore different areas in their home to discover Room Sets, (similar to how you would see them in an IKEA Store).

Another example of the device’s AR capabilities can be seen in the ‘Hot Lava’ Apple Arcade game (pictured at beginning of article), which will feature a new AR mode available later this year. The mode transforms a room into a lava-filled obstacle course. The technology allows the game to blur the lines between the physical and virtual world in a mixed-reality experience.

Finally, there is the Shapr3D app on the new iPad Pro, a professional CAD system based on Siemens Parasolid technology. Shapr3D will use the LiDAR Scanner to automatically generate an accurate 2D floor plan and 3D model of a room, which can then be used as the basis to design remodels or room additions like a bathroom or closet. New designs can then be previewed in real-world scale using AR in the same room that was scanned.

The new iPad Pro is available to order starting today on apple.com and in the Apple Store app in 30 countries and regions, including the US. iPad Pro will be available in stores starting next week.

The new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will be available in silver and space gray finishes. A starting configuration of 128GB offers pro customers more room for their apps and content, along with 256GB, 512GB and 1TB configurations.

The 11-inch iPad Pro starts at USD $799 for the Wi-Fi model and USD $949 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular model. The 12.9-inch iPad Pro starts at USD $999 for the Wi-Fi model and USD $1,149 for the Wi-Fi + Cellular mode.

Image credit: Apple

About the author

Sam Sprigg

Sam is the Founder and Managing Editor of Auganix. With a background in research and report writing, he covers news articles on both the AR and VR industries. He also has an interest in human augmentation technology as a whole, and does not just limit his learning specifically to the visual experience side of things.