Answer to questions in comments of Stoo's article on new iPhone LIDAR and SEAR-RL

iOS & iPadOS

Original Article

Hello Brad, Oliver, Patrick (and Stoo because it was his article),

I am mirroring this message to you all to hit all the questions at once as to not to tie up the comments section in Stoo’s article.

Brad’s TestFlight Question.

I never thought about putting the App on TestFlight because I wanted to do controlled/formal user testing. The last thing I wanted was for someone to get all DareDevil and walk out into traffic (lawsuits and personal guilt can be pesky things). However, strange times call for strange methods, so maybe using TestFlight should be considered now. As long as I can ensure people will test it responsibly (and absolve me of responsibly for dumbass use on their part).

If I did put it on TestFlight, the testers would still need to procure stereo earphones and some sort of head mount for their phones. A head mount can be something like Google Cardboard with straps and the camera view cutout. That is what I used for about a year developing version 2. The system is meant to be worn like a VISOR (like Jordi in Star Trek: NTG). I have entertained the idea of the an electric cane method, but that is a future revision if that happens.

Oliver’s How does it work question.

The experience is like an 'instant spatial vOICe'. One hears a blob of sound representing the approximate volume, color, and location of an object. It is an instantaneous representation; you do not have to wait for the Left-to-Right sweep found in vOICe or EyeMusic. Only objects recognized by ARKit’s Scene Recognition will get a unique sound.

Stairs, curbs, and ledges are not detected (I have an idea on how to detect and represent those and that was supposed to be the next stage of work. Unfortunately, a man has got to eat, so everything is on hold now.)

Patrick’s Criteria Question

There is basic text detection, but it is turned off by default.

Also, there is better control over the audio in app (and still could be improved some more). I had to overdrive the audio for the video to make it apparent what was happening. The irony I discovered from past demonstrations is I have to amp up the audio so normally sighted people can understand what is happening.

P.S. Unrelated, how do you get apps listed in the Apps Section of AppleVis? I did all the accessibility work for AudioKit’s SynthOne, I just have never seen app talked about on AppleVis.

Stanley ‘Staque’ Rosenbaum



Submitted by Staque on Thursday, October 15, 2020

It is going to be an actual thing. But that is why building the system on an iPhone is helpful.

Using Head mounts might suck, but it gives you a jump start on development.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, October 15, 2020

Well, I'm getting the pro. I think the possibilities of LIDAR are exciting and, as I only upgrade once every four years or so, would rather have it from the off.

This sounds like a very interesting concept. I wonder if there is a possibility of a chest mount instead? I realise that removes the turret of the head, but it would give a stable and oriented consistency that holding it by hand would lack.

Maybe, if you are willing, we could get some test audio done, give people an idea of what it can do with a description of what one is hearing. The vOICe is great and Peter is doing a top job with it, but it does have a steep learning curve and lacks the frame rate that I'd be comfortable using.

As for apple glass, it will come, just don't hold your breath. There needs to be enough apps, like this one, for it to be a compelling purchase. We almost expect an active App Store at launch now. By including LIDAR now apple has got the drop on that, but might take time to beef up offerings.


Submitted by Staque on Thursday, October 15, 2020

A chest mount would probably work. But someone would need to design it, that is outside my knowledge.

Preferably, a the mount should hold the iPhone in the landscape orientation. The cameras have a wider field of view that way.

The only concern with a chest mount is the user's arms and hands could be detected, when a person holds them up. Not an impossible issue to overcome but it would have to be dealt with.


Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Thursday, October 15, 2020

I believe that they already exist, failing that it wouldn't take much to 3D print something. Yeah, but I'd imagine hands and arms are going to be present in the head mounted version too. If it is worn fairly high on the chest it might miss the eccentric motion of swinging arms.

I'll do some research.