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Home / Tips and Tricks / The iPhone 12 Pro Lidar sensor has a cool party trick we didn’t expect

The iPhone 12 Pro Lidar sensor has a cool party trick we didn’t expect



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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 also the company added a lidar sensor. A first on iPhones, the new feature helps enhance portrait mode photos and even allows for 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 it 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 is not a new technology – in fact, the 2020 iPad Pro also has lidar – and the same technology is often used throughout self-driving cars.

Read more: ProRaw: See How Apple’s New iOS 14.3 Trick Transformed My iPhone 12 Photos

Here’s a party trick I just discovered, with the help of MacRumors, and I’ll list a few more.

For my first trick, here’s how to use 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).

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Pretty cool stuff, right?

Apple

1. Open the Measuring app on your iPhone.

2. Point the rear view camera at a person standing or sitting and make sure you get their whole body – from head to toe – inside the frame.

3. After a second or two, 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 picture 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 too, 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 as to whether it was 55 or 65 inches (it was 65 inches).

When the Measure app first launched with iOS 12, I explained how to use it to measure random household objects or figure square footage. With the addition of lidar on Apple devices, the app becomes more accurate. So if you’ve upgraded your iPhone, it’s worth giving the Measure tool another shot.

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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 fun 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 using 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 things behind real items 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 your iPhone 12s ($ 829 at Amazon) nice trick, take care of it check out these hidden features in iOS 14. If you’re still getting to know 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 it off.


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