Apple's iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max have a new feature to aid users who are blind or have low vision i.e. the ability to essentially see other people coming. The feature went live with the launch of iOS 14.2.
The devices make use of the new lidar sensor on the back of the phones to detect how close other people are to the user, something Apple has named People Detection.
Lidar is a type of depth sensor that helps with augmented reality apps and serves as the eyes of self-driving cars. Now, Apple is applying it to accessibility in an effort to help people who have vision problems better navigate the world around them.
When someone who is blind is in a queue for instance, they'll be able to turn on People Detection on their iPhone 12 Pro to let them know when they need to move up in line. Or someone walking through a crowded place will get alerts about how close other people are as they pass by them.
People Detection will be able to tell the person's distance from the user in feet or meters, and it works up to 15 feet/5 meters away. Anyone in the iPhone 12 Pro's wide-angle camera view can be detected by the feature. If there are multiple people nearby, People Detection will give the distance from the one closest to the iPhone user.
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