A Modest iPad Update Holds the Key to Apple’s AR Future

March 20, 2020

THIS WEEK, APPLE debuted a  new iPad Pro. It has a little more power than the previous model, and a keyboard with a trackpad. Neat. But its most consequential upgrade is the one that will likely get the least use, at least on a tablet: a lidar scanner.

If you’ve heard of lidar it’s likely because of self-driving cars. It’s a useful technology in that context because it can build a 3D map of the sensor’s surroundings; it uses pulses of light to gauge distances and locations in a similar way to how radar uses radio signals. In an iPad Pro, that depth-sensing will be put in the service of augmented reality. But it’s not really about the iPad Pro. Apple put a lidar scanner in a tablet to prepare, almost certainly, for when it puts one in a pair of AR glasses.

Continue reading to see ICT’s Jessica Brillhart give commentary to WIRED on the news.