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Who invented the LiDAR for the iPad Pro?

The latest iPad Pro has a LiDAR sensor. This sensor gives the iPad depth-sensing capabilities, which can be used for augmented reality applications, for example. A lot has been written about the iPad LiDAR. For example, here or here.

With new technologies such as this, I’m always interested in finding more background information. Particularly, what I want to know is who are the scientists and engineers that make it happen?

In the case of the Google Pixel’s camera, for example, this is relatively easy to find out. Google has an in-depth technical blog that even has the posts labeled, “computational photography” in my case. From there, it is only a few clicks to find out that Marc Levoy, for example, plays a very important role in Google’s research in this area.

By contrast, in the case of the iPad LiDAR, finding such information turned out to be a lot harder. Sure, I can search for “apple lidar” or “ipad lidar” in any web search engine, and get many, many hits. But what I then get are product reviews etc., none of which help me answer my question of who invented it.

So I used Mergeflow to get some answers.

Use Mergeflow’s person discovery analytics to find LiDAR inventors

One of Mergeflow’s analytics capabilities is that it identifies names of people in text. This is what I used. After all, my prime goal was not to find long lists of documents, news, etc., but I wanted names of scientists, engineers, and inventors.

Related: How to get better search results for tech discovery

First, I searched Mergeflow for “apple AND lidar” or “ipad AND lidar”, and looked at the resulting tag clouds and social network graphs of people discovered by Mergeflow. Then, in a second step, I broadened my search by using patent classes to search for broader concepts. In Mergeflow you can do this not just for patents but also for other contents. In particular, I searched for G01B (measuring lengths etc.) and G01C (measuring distances etc.), combined with “laser OR lidar”.

Here is an excerpt from the resulting people network graph in Mergeflow:

People network graph extracted by Mergeflow, from contents on Apple, iPad, laser, LiDAR, and measuring lengths or distances.
People network graph extracted by Mergeflow, from contents on Apple, iPad, laser, LiDAR, and measuring lengths or distances.

The data behind the network graph above include the following two patents from 2016, for example, where the inventors are Alexander Shpunt and Cristiano Niclass:

Adaptive transmission power control for a LiDAR

LiDAR with irregular pulse sequence

This is “circumstantial evidence”, and I cannot say with absolute certainty that these are the scientists and engineers who invented the iPad Pro LiDAR. But it is a starting point. For example, now if I really want to deep-dive in on these technologies, I can use Mergeflow to further explore these experts’ patents, science publications, and other contents.

This article was written by:

Florian Wolf

Florian Wolf

Florian is founder and CEO at Mergeflow, where he is responsible for company strategy and analytics development at Mergeflow. Previously, Florian developed analytics software for risk management at institutional investors. He also worked as a Research Associate in Computer Science and Genetics at the University of Cambridge. Florian has a PhD in Cognitive Sciences from MIT.

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