Image credit: Apple.
By Tara Husband and Asna Khan
As technology continues to evolve, smartphones are becoming increasingly advanced, with new features and capabilities being added every year. You might know that your iPhone has multiple camera sensors, both on the front and the back. These let you take aesthetically pleasing photos and videos in different environments. But if you’ve got the Pro or Pro Max models of the iPhone 12, 13, or 14, you may not have realized another practical sensor–enabled with LiDAR technology–has been added to your device. So, what is this technology, and what should you know about it?
1. What is LiDAR?
Here at FIT:MATCH, we love the LiDAR-enabled iPhone. LiDAR stands for “Light Detection and Ranging.” This little sensor uses invisible lasers to measure the time it takes to bounce off an object and return to the source, meaning it can measure the distance and depth of objects by using something called “time of flight.”
You may have heard Time of Flight (ToF) sensors being used in other phones or tech devices, so what sets LiDAR apart? To put it simply, the technology is different. While LiDAR uses lasers to create 3D point clouds, ToF sensors use light detection to create a depth map. LiDAR is faster and more precise than ToF technologies, which tend to be simpler and less detailed.
2. How is LiDAR used?
LiDAR is used in various industries like aviation and automotives, but recently, the tech has made its way into smartphones. The most common application is for Augmented Reality (AR) purposes, like Apple’s Measure app, which lets you measure the dimensions of real-life objects with your camera.
Apple continues to make waves, dominating the market with its LiDAR camera that enables advanced AR experiences. And now, it seems that other smartphone manufacturers are jumping on the LiDAR bandwagon as well. One such company is BBK Electronics, a Chinese electronics company that owns several smartphone brands, including Oppo and its popular Oppo A series.
But Oppo is not the only smartphone manufacturer looking to integrate LiDAR technology into their devices. Other players in the market, such as Samsung and Huawei, are also rumored to be working on LiDAR-enabled smartphones.
So, what does this mean for consumers? Well, for starters, it means that the possibilities for smartphone applications are growing. With LiDAR technology, users can expect to see more advanced AR experiences, better object recognition in photos, and more accurate depth-sensing for a variety of applications. In addition, LiDAR-enabled phones have comprised 30-40% of iPhone sales each year since 2020.
Image credit: MacRumors
Of course, there are also concerns about the potential cost of LiDAR-enabled smartphones, as well as the impact on battery life. However, with more manufacturers entering the field, it is likely that we will see more affordable options in the near future.
3. Why should I care?
In recent years, a growing list of apps has taken advantage of the iPhone’s LiDAR capabilities and have begun creating scanning apps for household use. Whether you’re furnishing a space in your home, shopping for new clothes, or you’re simply a tech enthusiast, there are many ways to make use of the LiDAR sensor in your phone.
One way you can use LiDAR sensors right now is through fit technology, helping you efficiently shop for clothing. FIT:MATCH disrupts the retail market by using LiDAR technology in a different way, simply to help consumers find what fits. Because the technology is fast and accurate, it can quickly capture the precise shape of your body, allowing for a deeply personalized shopping experience. Unlike traditional measurement-based methods, LiDAR also doesn’t require you to stand still for long periods of time. From start to finish, a LiDAR scan takes just seconds to complete.
FIT:MATCH is pioneering this technology for retail by providing a 3D solution to a 3D problem. We take the guesswork out of finding your perfect size through analyzing your shape, rather than through measurements. Our Self Scan solution allows you to complete a quick and safe body scan–from anywhere–to discover products that match your exact body shape in seconds. You can shop with confidence, knowing what fits your body best.
You may be wondering how we’re able to make these instantaneous product recommendations. After a new customer completes a LiDAR scan, either in store or online, our patented algorithm gets to work by matching them to their digital twin within a database of real body shapes that have already tried on the product. We understand your data is deeply personal and that privacy is of the utmost importance. With that in mind, we believe in several guiding principles that ensure a safe and accurate scanning experience:
• No Photo or Video is Saved
We don’t need to save any photos or videos of you in order to provide you with match recommendations. After each completed scan, any bio-identifiable data captured on your device is immediately deleted. The only thing captured by FIT:MATCH is your point cloud avatar, a discrete set of data points in space, generated by your body scan. This point cloud is sent for processing and compared with a database of digital twins to determine your best-fitting clothing matches.
• Data Encryption
Any non-identifiable data that FIT:MATCH uses is processed in the cloud. Then, we use a one-way SHA3 hashing (think of it like a fingerprint lock for your data file) that can’t be de-identified by us–or anyone else.
Given our commitment to meeting global safety regulations, such as the UK and EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), we work alongside external experts during product design and development to ensure individuals can complete safe and accurate scans without the risk of compromising their personal data.
LiDAR technology is a game-changer for smartphones, and with more players entering the field, we can expect to see even more exciting developments in the coming years. If you're in the market for a new smartphone, it might be worth considering one with LiDAR technology to take advantage of its many uses and benefits!
Discover how LiDAR technology can facilitate secure, efficient scanning experiences for apparel shopping. Read our whitepaper, The Future of Fit Technology.
If you're a brand interested in partnering with FIT:MATCH, we'd love to hear from you.