TikTok releases first AR filter for iPhone 12 Pro's LIDAR sensor

Virtual confetti everywhere.

Don Arnold/WireImage/Getty Images

TikTok recently announced on Twitter that it has released its first augmented reality (AR) filter that harnesses the LIDAR sensor on the iPhone 12 Pro. The company tweeted the video below in which you can see a person standing, at first, in a regular living room. With TikTok's AR filter, a disco ball counting down to 2021 shows up, followed by numerical balloons for the year, and a bunch of surprisingly convincing golden confetti.

While AR filters are nothing new, TikTok's AR filter goes one level above the conventional technology and makes the confetti move realistically over the individual's head, shoulders, arms, and the rest of the body. Even after the actor moves out of the frame, the confetti falls to the ground almost like real confetti. Check it out.

TikTok / Twitter

The power of LIDAR — LIDAR technology is something Apple has been interested in it for a while now. It works like radar (hence the name similarities) but instead of using radio waves to map objects in space, it uses light from a laser to create a three-dimensional map of an object, person, or whatever the lens is pointing at.

The laser paints the object with light and the scanner in the LIDAR sensor assesses just how long that light took to return to it having been reflected off the object in question. The iPhone 12 Pro's LIDAR technology is ideally suited to augmented reality features... like the new TikTok filter.

With LIDAR, you can add all sorts of animations, non-moving images, text, or other digital content very realistically. The imposed animation or imagery will move fairly realistically based on the focused object's movements.

More to come — The timing of the filter's release is odd. Confetti falling after December 31 is a little delayed; people may have appreciated the feature a lot more if it had arrived earlier, especially considering people pretty much anywhere other than New Zealand couldn't (responsibly) go out and celebrate New Year due to COVID-19 restrictions. But it's an impressive option nonetheless and TikTok plans to keep introducing more filters like it.

It also won't be lost on the keen-eyed that this is a clever marketing move. TikTok, one of the most downloaded apps in the world (and loathed by the outbound President), is making its platform more enticing to people who use Apple's devices.

TikTok says that it will bring "more innovative effects in 2021." And with vaccines rolling out slowly, TikTok, Snapchat, and other apps are sure to be looking for new ways to keep us entertained — and engaged with their services — while we're at home.