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How to use the LiDAR Scanner to help with Social Distancing

10th February 2021

Jacob Woolcock



In this short tutorial I’ll show you how you can use the brand new LiDAR scanner on the iPhone 12 Pro, Pro Max and iPad Pro (2020) to quickly and accurately measure the distance between yourself (and your iPhone) and somebody else. This is visual and uses an built-in camera to draw an augmented reality line between you and someone else to let you know how close they are.

This useful accessibility feature has benefits in the age of social distancing, but also plenty of other uses too. Your iPhone can even give haptic and audio feedback as people approach.

Now iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 has been officially released it’s time to share some #QuickTips with you to help you make the very most from this exciting new software update for your iPhone.

Did you know if you’ve got a modern iPhone with a LiDAR scanner, you can actually use it to measure the distance between you and other people, making it perfect for social distancing? Here’s how it works. And hey, if you like this video and subscribe down below, you will stay up to date with all of the latest iPad and iPhone Quick Tips on my channel, and you’ll help me grow as well. It’s a win-win.

Okay, this little feature is actually tucked away in the operating system as one of the accessibility features. So, to activate it, jump onto the Settings app, and then scroll down to Accessibility. From here, you’re looking for the Magnifier tool. Enabling the Magnify will actually give you a new app on your home screen. If you can’t see it straight away, check in the App Library. But for me, it’s on the home screen, ready to go. And when you open it, you go straight into the camera.

Now, in this app, at the bottom, there are a few different options, and one of them has got two people with an arrow between them. That is People Detection. So, tap onto there, and the interface will change so the screen is now just a camera. Then, watch what happens if someone walks in front of the screen. The iPhone is using the LiDAR scanner to accurately measure the distance between the phone itself and that person walking across. That person happens to be absolutely freezing as well, because it was -1 when I made this video.

The measurement here is pretty accurate because it is using LiDAR. It does have a much better degree of accuracy than perhaps you might expect. It’s never going to be 100% perfect, and you’re not going to get millimetre-precise detail here, but you will get a pretty good indication of how close someone is. Now, if you want to, you can change your units of measurement into metres or feet, and you can do that by coming out of People Detection mode and then pressing settings on the Magnifier app. As well as changing your unit of measurement, you can also set an audible noise when someone gets too close to you, for example, two metres or six feet, and you can have haptic, sound, and spoken feedback as well.

So, if I choose some of those options, you’re not going to feel the phone vibrate through YouTube, but in my hand, it will vibrate as someone comes closer. But you will hear Siri telling me what’s going on, just like this: “12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 6, 5.” You won’t feel the haptic feedback yourself through the video, obviously, but in the hand, the iPhone buzzes, gradually getting more and more intense as the person gets closer to you.

This is, of course, great if I can’t see my iPhone. It’s quite a neat little feature, isn’t it? Tucked away, hidden in the accessibility settings of your new iPhone, it’s there just waiting to be experimented with.

That’s all from me for now. I hope you found this video useful. Please do like it and subscribe down below, and I’ll see you in the next one.

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