Using IPhone Lidar camera

Just wondering if anyone is able to share the experience of using the new Iphone lidar camera to scan in objects like buildings etc into SKU

Love to see how this technology can improve our experience

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I use the lidar scanner (ipad pro) already several months in combination with SketchUp. And although it isn’t perfect, I love it.

I use the ‘3d Scanner App’ which is still a free app on the ipad to make the scans. The scans are in full color!

I use the Skimp plugin ( to import the obj files into SketchUp. The newest version of ‘3d scanner App’ now support export to DAE which can be opened in SketchUp. But I still find that the OBJ imported with Skimp plugin gives better result.

example skp-file with imported scan:


How do you then make use of that rather amazing model in CAD? Especially as the level of detail makes for quite a big file, considering it’s only a small part of the whole structure.

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I use it to measure it and create a new clean model in a separate file.


I use it in a similise way, I use a combination of a structure sensor to capture large spaces and have been using the lidar sensor and the 3D scanner app to collect high resolution models of smaller complex details for later reference and measurement when building my sketchup models

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When you import it, do you have to scale it agains a known dimension?

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It’s 1:1 real world scale.

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So the lidar scan “knows” that already?

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Yes.1:1 calibrated. I usually have check measurements anyway.

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Just watched this vid about it. Interesting.


I have an iPadG6 which can work with the structure sensor, otherwise I’d have to by a new iPad Pro for this feature. Has anyone used both to campare?

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Loving the communication on this
I’m interested in using it to pick up building so I can then use for renovations and extensions designs on the building in SKU

Has anyone used it for this ,?

I’d love to connect if it suits

Ok. SO I’ve used the 1st gen structure sensor for a number of years on an original 12.9” iPad Pro and its pretty good (I’ve posted here a long time ago on my experience and pros / cons). I have a 2020 iPad Pro now too but still use the structure on the original iPad (i havent upgraded to the gen 2 yet so have to take both iPads out with me), I use MagicPlan for my surveys and it is excellent on the new iPad.

Occipital’s Canvas software that you use with the structure sensor can now also use the Lidar sensor in the 2020 iPad Pro and the iPhone 12 Pro. I have had situations where the original iPad (with structure sensor) battery has depleted and I have used the Lidar in the new iPad to complete the survey.

Within the Canvas app the captured geometry (with the built-in Lidar scanner) is much lower resolution than the structure sensor captures and the associated processed texture and colorised scan is proportionally/significantly lower resolution too.
This I think is a software limitation partly because the captures I do with ‘3D Scanner’ app are extremely dense, high resolution meshes with high resolution texture atlases.
This, of course comes at a file size price. A room capture with Structure mesh may be in the order of 40mb plus a 20Mb texture atlas overhead when colorised (this step is done off device in the cloud for 2 dollars per scan).
A relatively small 3mm resolution Lidar detail scan (natively to the 3D Scanner app) can run into the hundreds of Mb’s. A room scan can easily be 1Gb or more - you can of course sacrifice resolution but once I got up to the 1Gb sort of scan size, the app is seems to be unstable and I had to delete the scans .
I must also point out I do not use any of the scans in SketchUp, I use them in Meshlab for measurement and reference purposes to ‘audit’ and add detail to my MagicPlan / Leica DISTO measured surveys.

I have found no benefit over the years for a direct use in SketchUp, its actually adds more complexity and overhead to constructing a model but as reference and measurement tools they are invaluable as you can capture ‘everything’ to support a measured and photographic survey.

One final point, the source scans from the Structure sensor are extremely accurate, for residential surveys, pretty much as accurate as my DISTO laser. Occipital do offer a scan to CAD service, where you can upload the scan to the cloud and a SketchUp file is produced for you, this uses some backend algorithms and processing as well as some human intervention but I have found from early experience that this introduced errors and inaccuracy from whatever approximation algorithms that are used and trying to track down where the error was introduced into the model often takes longer than actually building the model yourself from the very accurate source scan and whatever measured survey process you use.

I need to do some more testing with the Lidar scanner in regards to accuracy as I have only had to use it ‘in a pinch’

PS link to my original Structure topic…


That’s really interesting. I think it was in the video I uploaded that it was mentioned that this is tech in its infancy. It is awesome in many ways but it has a little way to go before it can really save time. It must be extraordinarily difficult for a camera-based system to know what is important and what is not and to recognize edges. These are crucial to efficient measured surveys. But doubtless it will improve in the same way that collision avoidance does in driverless cars. The future is bright!

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