Dec 9, 2014 | By Simon

With over 1200 patents (and counting) per year under its belt, Apple has averaged to file at least 3 patents a day since 2012, including weekends, all year long.

While a lot of the patented concepts will never see the light of day in the form of a consumer product for years to come, the fact of the matter is that a lot of them do find their way into a product in some shape or form.

It's no surprise then, that among those patents would spawn some of the more sci-fi concepts that we've seen in recent memory.

More recently, Apple has patented a unique laser mapping system for the iPhone that allows the consumer smartphone device to accurate map interior environments such as homes, workspaces, shopping malls and museums, among others.

Awarded on December 4th, the patent allows Apple to start exploring applications that include the possibility of accurate 3D scans directly from your iPhone...not too different than existing 3D scanning devices seen on desktops and in workshops for replicating objects with 3D printers.

The technology works by generating a laser beam that reflects off of surfaces or objects in an environment. The reflection of the beam is then projected back to a sensor on the device and a map of the form can then be created using width, length and height data.

Google has experimented with a similar environmental mapping system in their Project Tango devices, however those rely on multiple cameras versus a laser mapping system to accurately portray an environment. More recently, Google teamed up with consumer retailer Target to create an immersive shopping experience that uses augmented reality via the Project Tango tablet to create an animated holiday shopping Winter Wonderland within the aisles of the store.

"Google and Apple are clearly taking intellectual property very seriously, and playing to win," said Mike Baycroft, CEO of patent research firm IFI.

Regardless if Apple chooses to follow suit and use the technology for altering the retail experience or to provide a quick and accurate on-the-go option for 3D scanning and replicating devices with 3D printing applications, it's safe to say that this is a step in the right direction for making 3D scanning and printing even more accessible and affordable for the mass market.

While there is no mention of a release date at this time, Apple has reportedly been ramping up iPhone production and plans on releasing two phones per year rather than one...meaning, we may see this exciting new technology sooner rather than later.



Posted in 3D Scanning


Maybe you also like:


shaun l wrote at 12/13/2014 12:53:57 AM:

agree... -3d scanning is well evolved... -hand held...done.... -putting this in multiple locations to make cohesive encompassing 3d...done -using a the company who makes kinect to do a real 3d -kinect is a toy, and great for coupla more than that thou -lasers on public phones, that can measure >3m ...not eye safe, no phone maker would do this . EVER you would think if 3ders is going to talk about 3d capture, then hire someone with knowledge

Bri wrote at 12/10/2014 6:42:34 PM:

I'm just astounded by the crap that gets approved at the patent office. There are tons of companies that have been doing exactly this for years now on top of the fact that this doesn't pass the obviousness test!!!

mb wrote at 12/9/2014 9:08:46 PM:

I suppose you’d have them delete the whole "3d scanning" category? You should click the second link titled "patented"!

alvaro wrote at 12/9/2014 6:40:15 PM:

Enter the tricoder

Damon wrote at 12/9/2014 6:20:58 PM:

This is not related to 3d printing. It's being used as a laser beam, not to create 3d models.

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive