News Highlights: The iPhone 12 Pro lidar sensor has a cool party trick we weren’t expecting
The Measure app makes it easy to measure how tall someone is, as long as you have the right device.
Jason Cipriani / CNET
Apple not only has three cameras in the iPhone 12 Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro Max, but the company has also added a lidar sensor. A first on iPhones, the new feature helps enhance portrait mode photos and even allows those blurry background shots to be taken in night mode. However, the lidar sensor has another trick it can do – and it’s sure to impress your friends at your next party (when the weather’s safe, of course).
Lidar stands for “light detection and range” and works by bouncing lasers off objects to measure their distance based on how long it takes for light to return to the sensor. The sensor itself isn’t new technology – in fact, the iPad Pro 2020 also has lidar – and the same technology is often used in self-driving cars.
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Read More: ProRaw: Watch Apple’s New iOS 14.3 Trick My iPhone 12 photos
Here’s a party trick I just discovered, with the help of MacRumors, and I’ll explain a few more below.
For my first trick, here’s how to get the iPhone 12 Pro’s camera to measure a person’s height in just a few seconds (I did this with my kids and they loved it).
Pretty cool stuff, right?
1. Open the Measure app on your iPhone.
2. Point the rear camera at a person who is standing or sitting and make sure that his entire body – from head to toe – is in the frame.
3. After a few seconds, a line will appear above their heads with an estimate of their height, including items such as their hair or a hat.
4. You can take a photo of the measurement by tapping the shutter button and saving it to your camera roll.
In my tests, the measurement was accurate to within an inch. My son’s curly hair made his first measurement just a little too high, but after he combed it, it was perfect at four feet.
I tested it on myself as well and little things like the angle of my head or wearing a hat resulted in the same slightly short 5 foot, 9 inch reading. However, when I stood upright and looked at the camera without a hat, it was more accurate, with a reading of 5 feet, 10 inches.
The Measure app allows you to get a rough estimate of more than just a person’s height. You can use it to get the dimensions of a piece of furniture, for example to see if it fits through a door. I recently measured a TV to settle a debate whether it was 55 or 65 inches (it was 65 inches).
When the Measure app first launched with iOS 12, I explained how you can use it to measure arbitrary household objects or square footage. With the addition of lidar on Apple devices, the app becomes more accurate. So if you get your iPhone, it is worth giving the measuring instrument another chance.
With a third-party app, you can scan an entire room and create a 3D map.
Screenshots by Jason Cipriani / CNET Want to try more cool lidar features?
The lidar sensor is not limited to measuring different objects. You can use it to create 3D maps of a room (as shown above), or a 3D recreation of a single object, which you can then print on a 3D printer when you run an app like Polycam.
According to CNET’s Scott Stein, the Apple Arcade game Hot lava uses the lidar sensor to scan a room, after which it can hide virtual items behind real things in the room, such as a chair.
As more apps are updated to improve the augmented reality experience thanks to the lidar sensor, it is not clear what else we can do with compatible iPhone and iPad models.
After impressing your friends and family with you iPhone 12’s ($ 829 at Amazon) neat trick, check out these hidden features in iOS 14. If you’re still learning your way around the iPhone 12, here are some settings worth checking out. For example, if you don’t live in an area with 5G coverage, you can turn this off.
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