Using The Power Of LiDAR To Take iOS AR Apps To The Next Level


David Ametsitsi

David is an experienced mobile engineer, always looking to push the envelope of AR/VR experiences.

Updated Feb 11, 2021

Evolution of a decades-old technology.

During WWDC2020, Apple announced new AR hardware for the new iPhone and iPad to help take your existing or new app to the next level. This new hardware comes in the form of an active SONAR-like system that emits laser beams and measures the light reflected. This technology is called LiDAR, and rudimentary implementations have been around since the early 60s. Apple is now using a similar technology. Read more below. 

Impressive, new experiences.

Have you ever wondered how Face ID works? Face ID employs a system similar to LiDAR, which casts tightly-packed infrared dots onto the user’s face. An infrared camera measures the face’s topography and compares it to the stored data, just like a password. This new LiDAR system generates a 3D map of the area in front of the device, creating compelling, new experiences for AR games and environment scanning tools.



Niantic has recently updated their viral game, Pokemon Go, with LiDAR capabilities. These new updates significantly improve player experience making the characters look and feel like they are actually in front of you. 



Games like AR Robot have taken it even further by adding realistic shadows:

AR Robot


Tiktok has used the new LiDAR scanner to add new engaging filters to delight users. Notice how the confetti interacts with the scene by landing on objects as it falls:


Mobile landscape surveillance is becoming increasingly popular with hardware like the Matterport MC250 Pro2, but these cameras are bulky and expensive. With the new iPad Pro, or even the iPhone 12 Pro, you can provide a similar experience at a fraction of the cost. This new hardware is versatile and expandable, allowing you to leverage the entire Apple AR ecosystem. With tools like Reality Converter, you can create new 3D objects or edit generated objects on your PC or Mac. SiteScape has created an app to export scanned scenes to MeshLab to facilitate a tight and straightforward loop for generating accurate 3D models of a landscape.



IKEA uses the LiDAR sensor to improve the accuracy of their AR furniture placement app, Place. Functionality allows you to determine whether your selected item will fit without having to bring out a measuring tape, and place multiple items to see what looks good together before you buy. 


Stay tuned for more.

These are only a few of the many applications that are significantly improved by using Apple’s new LiDAR hardware. At GenUI, we actively investigate, experiment, and apply new technologies like LiDAR to help commercialize great technology ideas and products. We would love to help you take your iOS AR app to the next level!

For more information, visit Apple’s website, and look out for my technical intro to ARKit and LiDAR coming soon.