A closer look at the LiDAR scanner on the new iPad Pro
Apple has launched its new iPad Pro and it brings a few surprises, not least of which is something approaching proper trackpad support for the first time. Also something of a surprise is that instead of adding a standard 3D ToF sensor to the rear camera of the new iPad, it has instead added a new LiDAR radar sensor – the same kinds of radar tech found in police speed cameras.
The new camera array on the rear looks similar to what you will find on the current iPhone 11 Pro line, but much prettier. Instead of a third camera, however, you will find Apple’s new LiDAR sensor sitting alongside the new 10 MP ultrawide camera and standard 12 MP wide camera. LiDAR stands for “light detection and ranging” and is used to measure how long it takes light to reach an object and reflect back.
It is like a 3D ToF camera sensor, but much more accurate. Where a 3D ToF sensor measures the round-trip time of an artificial light signal provided by a laser (or LED) to capture an entire scene, a LiDAR sensor uses a scanner to capture elements of a scene point-by-point using lasers. Apple says it works up to five meters away, indoors and out, working at the photon level and at nanosecond speeds. As you can imagine, Apple is deploying the technology to increase the augmented reality capabilities of the new iPad Pro.