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iPhone 12 Pro's lidar feature: See it in action with this 3D-scanning app – CNET

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The Canvas app 3D scans homes using the iPhone 12 Pro’s lidar. Expect a lot more of this.


Occipital

The iPhone 12 Pro’s depth-scanning lidar sensor looks ready to open up a lot of possibilities for 3D-scanning apps on phones. A new one designed for home scanning, called Canvas, uses lidar for added accuracy and detail. But the app will work with non-pro iPhones going back to the iPhone 8, too.

The approach taken by Canvas indicates how lidar could play out in iPhone 12 Pro apps. It can add more accuracy and detail to processes that are already possible through other methods on non-lidar-equipped phones and tablets.

Read more: iPhone 12’s lidar tech does more than improve photos. Check out this cool party trick

Canvas, created by Boulder-based company Occipital, originally launched for the iPad Pro to take advantage of its lidar scanning earlier this year. When I saw a demo of its possibilities back then, I saw it as a sign of how Apple’s depth-sensing tech could be applied to home-improvement and measurement apps. The updated app takes scans that are clearer and crisper.

Since the lidar-equipped iPhones have debuted, a handful of optimized apps have emerged offering 3D scanning of objects, larger-scale space-scanning photography (called photogrammetry) and augmented reality that can blend meshed-out maps of spaces with virtual objects. But Occipital’s Canvas app sample scan on the iPhone 12 Pro, embedded below, looks sharper than 3D scanning apps I’ve played with so far.

Apple’s iOS 14 gives developers more raw access to the iPhone’s lidar data, according to Occipital’s VPs of Product Alex Schiff and Anton Yakubenko. This has allowed Occipital to build its own algorithms to use Apple’s lidar depth map to best use. It could also allow Occipital to apply the depth-mapping data to future improvements to its app for non-lidar-equipped phones.

Scanning 3D space without specific depth-mapping lidar or time-of-flight sensors is possible, and companies like 6d.ai (acquired by Niantic) have already been using it. But Schiff and Yakubenko say that lidar still offers a faster and more accurate upgrade to that technology. The iPhone 12 version of Canvas takes more detailed scans than the first version on the iPad Pro earlier this year, mostly because of iOS 14’s deeper access to lidar information, according to Occipital. The newest lidar-enabled version is accurate within a 1% range, while the non-lidar scan is accurate within a 5% range (quite literally making the iPhone 12 Pro a pro upgrade for those who might need the boost).

Yakubenko says by Occipital’s previous measurements, Apple’s iPad Pro lidar offers 574 depth points per frame on a scan, but depth maps can jump up to 256×192 points in iOS 14 for developers. This builds out more detail through AI and camera data.

Canvas room scans can convert to workable CAD models, in a process that takes about 48 hours, but Occipital is also working on converting scans more instantly and adding semantic data (like recognizing doors, windows and other room details) with AI. 

As more 3D scans and 3D data start living on iPhones and iPads, it’ll also make sense for common formats to share and edit the files. While iOS 14 uses a USDZ file format for 3D files, Occipital has its own format for its more in-depth scans, and can output to .rvt, .ifc, .dwg, .skp, and .plan formats when converting to CAD models. At some point, 3D scans may become as standardized as PDFs. We’re not quite there yet, but we may need to get there soon.

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Britain in talks with 6 firms about building gigafactories for EV batteries

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Britain is in talks with six companies about building gigafactories to produce batteries for electric vehicles (EV), the Financial Times reported on Wednesday, citing people briefed on the discussions.

Car makers Ford Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co Ltd, conglomerates LG Corp and Samsung, and start-ups Britishvolt and InoBat Auto are in talks with the British government or local authorities about locations for potential factories and financial support, the report added .

 

(Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Himani Sarkar)

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EBay to sell South Korean unit for about $3.6 billion to Shinsegae, Naver

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EBay will sell its South Korean business to retailer Shinsegae Group and e-commerce firm Naver for about 4 trillion won ($3.6 billion), local newspapers reported on Wednesday.

EBay Korea is the country’s third-largest e-commerce firm with market share of about 12.8% in 2020, according to Euromonitor. It operates the platforms Gmarket, Auction and G9.

Shinsegae, Naver and eBay Korea declined to comment.

Lotte Shopping had also been in the running, the Korea Economic Daily and other newspapers said, citing unnamed investment banking sources.

South Korea represents the world’s fourth largest e-commerce market. Driven by the coronavirus pandemic, e-commerce has soared to account for 35.8% of the retail market in 2020 compared with 28.6% in 2019, according to Euromonitor data.

Shinsegae and Naver formed a retail and e-commerce partnership in March by taking stakes worth 250 billion won in each other’s affiliates.

($1 = 1,117.7000 won)

 

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)

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Canada launches long-awaited auction of 5G spectrum

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Canada is set to begin a hotly anticipated auction of the mobile telecommunications bandwidth necessary for 5G rollout, one that was delayed more than a year by the pandemic.

The 3,500 MHz is a spectrum companies need to provide 5G, which requires more bandwidth to expand internet capabilities.The auction, initially scheduled for June 2020, is expected to take several weeks with Canadian government selling off 1,504 licenses in 172 service areas.

Smaller operators are going into the auction complaining that recent regulatory rulings have further tilted the scales in the favour of the country’s three biggest telecoms companies – BCE, Telus and Rogers Communications Inc – which together control around 90% of the market as a share of revenue.

Canadian mobile and internet consumers, meanwhile, have complained for years that their bills are among the world’s steepest. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has threatened to take action if the providers did not cut bills by 25%.

The last auction of the 600 MHz spectrum raised C$3.5 billion ($2.87 billion) for the government.

The companies have defended themselves, saying the prices they charge are falling.

Some 23 bidders including regional players such as Cogeco and Quebec’s Videotron are participating in the process. Shaw Communications did not apply to participate due to a $16 billion takeover bid from Rogers. Lawmakers and analysts have warned that market concentration will intensify if that acquisition proceeds.

In May, after Canada‘s telecoms regulator issued a ruling largely in favour of the big three on pricing for smaller companies’ access to broadband networks, internet service provider TekSavvy Inc withdrew from the auction, citing the decision.

Some experts say the government has been trying to level the playing field with its decision to set aside a proportion of spectrum in certain areas for smaller companies.

Gregory Taylor, a spectrum expert and associate professor at the University of Calgary, said he was pleased the government was auctioning off smaller geographic areas of coverage.

In previous auctions where the license covered whole provinces, “small providers could not participate because they could not hope to cover the range that was required in the license,” Taylor said.

Smaller geographic areas mean they have a better chance of fulfilling the requirements for the license, such as providing service to 90% of the population within five years of the issuance date.

The auction has no scheduled end date, although the federal ministry in charge of the spectrum auction has said winners would be announced within five days of bidding completion.

($1 = 1.2181 Canadian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Moira Warburton in Vancouver; Editing by David Gregorio)

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