Recently, Apple announced the addition of LiDAR Scanning on their latest 2020 version of the iPAD Pro. “The new iPad Pro adds an Ultra Wide camera, studio-quality mics and a breakthrough LiDAR Scanner that delivers cutting-edge depth-sensing capabilities… The LiDAR Scanner, along with pro cameras, motion sensors… Liquid Retina display… extends the lead of iPad Pro as the world’s best device for augmented reality (AR).” apple.com.
Apple states that their LiDAR Scanner can measure distance to surrounding objects up to 16ft (5 meters) both indoors and outdoors and combines depth points from both the LiDAR and optical cameras and motion sensors which provides advanced measuring of objects.
We tested the new LiDAR Scanning iPad Pro on our MobiLive™ AR app for mobile devices.
While the adoption of LiDAR sensors is new to the iPad Pro (2020 version) and some research stated there’s more development needed, we found the use of LiDAR in Augmented Reality has its immediate benefits. For example, using LiDAR equipped iPads in our MobiLive™ application dramatically increased resolution of mesh scans, better depth perception and larger BIM files locked down better with reduction in drift when compared to non-LiDAR equipped mobile devices.
One of the greatest benefits of LiDAR Scanning feature was the reduction of Occlusion of objects inside the Augmented Reality experience. Occlusion is where virtual objects inside the AR design display through physical objects within the environment. The removal of occlusion problems in AR will be a big step-forward in 3D modeling. It will help designers and fabricators see how something within the BIM can be impacted by the physical space.
This is logical since most autonomous driving vehicles today rely on LiDAR scanning to see and analyze their physical environments. They’re not dependent solely on optical images that vary between night and day as found in traditional optics. This same advantage is beginning to be used in AR devices today. While LiDAR is still in its early development stages on mobile devices, we found the increased scanning resolution and Occlusion solving elements to be very beneficial in our AR testing.
During our tests, we also found that the entire model loaded much easier and with better accuracy and resolution. When compared to older mobile devices, a large BIM would sometimes need to have layers removed or reduced in order to place and interact with the full-scale 3D design. In our tests, we found that the LiDAR sensors we’re able to provide better distance resolution scans which allowed for the entire larger BIM to placed on-site without the need to remove or reduce layers. We also noticed that the resolution, depth perception and sharpness of the BIM was better in LiDAR although this could also be due to the latest graphics processing and Ires screen the 2020 iPAD Pro ships with.
Since LiDAR Scanning works with depth-sensing technology and the cameras don’t rely on older standard visual only optics. We’re hopeful that the increase and accuracy of distance scanning features will improve BIM drift in AR. And the reduction of occlusion will allow for better productivity on the jobsite to instantly see conflicts between the as-built structure and the 3D design.
And with an LiDAR equipped iPAD pro available for under $1,000 we think it’s well worth pushing your BIM in AR to see the advantages of LiDAR in 3D environments.
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Starting in 2017, VisualLive was the first-to-market Mixed Reality solution for the AEC industry with the release of HoloLive™, for augmented reality glasses such as the Microsoft HoloLens. After the success of HoloLive™, the same technology was developed to work on mobile devices running on iOS and Android platforms with MobiLive™. Both products works with VisualLive’s Navisworks and Revit plugins and is integrated with BIM360 and Procore cloud-based solutions.
Today, VisualLive has over 1,500 current customers using both HoloLive™ and MobiLive™ in the construction and manufacturing industry.