Apple has unveiled a new API for creating 3D floor plans of an interior room. .
Since 2020, high-end iPhones and iPads have been equipped with LiDAR scanners – Light Detection And Ranging technology capable of scanning and mapping a user’s immediate surroundings.
Now, in your recent WWDC 2022 event, the company revealed room plan (opens in new tab), an augmented reality tool developed by Apple’s ARKit that will allow companies to use LiDAR within their own apps. Aimed firmly at professionals in the real estate, hospitality, architecture and interior design industries, Apple says RoomPlan will “help your app quickly create simplified parametric 3D scans of a room” to streamline conceptual planning.
How does Apple RoomPlan work?
RoomPlan is currently in beta, but Apple developer documentation (opens in new tab) to adopt this API offers some clues.
Within the app, a user first scans the room with their device. According to Apple, “the framework inspects a device’s camera feed and LiDAR readings and identifies walls, windows, openings and doors. RoomPlan also recognizes room features, furniture and appliances, e.g. fireplace, bed or refrigerator, and provides this information to the app.”
Once the scan is approved, the user can access the RoomPlan readings. This includes the estimated dimensions of a room, the option to add virtual furniture, or even include the room in a 3D game.
Output results in USD and USDZ file formats, allowing for additional adjustments when exported to USD compatible tools such as AutoCAD – our top choice for best architecture software.
3D mapping on mobile devices isn’t new – some of the best interior design software has long-praised AR capabilities. It’s a way to accurately visualize concepts in situ, allowing users to ‘see’ what completed projects might look like in their own space.
By opening up real-time scanning with LiDAR to third-party applications, however, Apple is making access even simpler for companies that want to bring augmented reality visions to life for customers and clients. And it’s a way to create better experiences for app users. RoomPlan allows application developers to “highlight physical structures and display text that guides the user to scan the shape of their physical environment”.
In addition to the improved orientation, there is better visual feedback during a scan, while the dollhouse display will display everything that has been scanned in a room. Effectively, with this announcement, it is possible for development teams to make their 3D home design software even more powerful.