At the CES 2014 event, Intel announced its ambition to develop a new family of technologies called RealSense, designed to facilitate the widespread use of voice and gesture control of devices and equipment, plus 3D printing.

[CES] Intel working to make 3D technology mobile and affordable


Among the major new technology trends on display at CES 2014, running from 7-10 January in Las Vegas, Intel revealed plans to become a dynamic player in the 3D technology field. L’Atelier reported some time ago on the interest the leading microprocessor manufacturer was showing in this technology, establishing a research centre in Finland. This week the company accordingly announced its intention to develop a family of technologies dubbed RealSense, embracing various pieces of equipment and software in orderto facilitate the use of voice, touch, gestures and other human senses with information and communication devices and peripherals. Mooly Eden, General Manager of Intel’s Perceptual Computing division, explained that the purpose of the RealSense development drive is to make ICT interaction more natural, intuitive and also available on a wide range of computer interfaces, including PCs, tablets and other devices. The Intel project is focusing in the first instance on a 3D camera, using technology which the company has already developed and which is scheduled to be on the market this year.

3D information for various purposes

The Intel RealSense 3D high definition camera (1080p) allows you to control a peripheral device with your arm, your hand and finger movements. It can also ‘understand’ the world around it and is able to capture various elements present in the field of vision and interpret people’s facial expressions. The camera also has what Intel calls a ‘depth sensor’, which enables it to capture 3D information and then work with a variety of applications. A major advantage of the camera is its size; it is small enough to be integrated into most mobile devices. During the RealSense presentation at the CES event, Mooly Eden demonstrated various applications of the technology. He showed for example how a device using the 3D camera can make real-time adjustments to a video, for instance altering the background of a Skype conversation that would normally require a green background. Eden also highlighted other functions, e.g. navigating on a Windows 8 screen by using gestures, and moving around in Google Maps Street View by indicating with the head.

Software designed to improve machine understanding of human behavior

As part of its plans to create a family of RealSense technologies, Intel has announced a partnership
with 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems, with the aim of creating software which uses the 3D camera sensors to scan objects and then create, modify and print out a digital double. Intel will also be working to develop software designed to improve machines’ grasp of human behavior. The company is planning to subsequently combine its technology with voice-controlled virtual assistant software that will enable users to communicate with their devices in a more intuitive manner. During the CES event, Intel presented seven different portable computers and tablets from manufacturers Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo and NEC, which all plan to integrate RealSense technology before the end of 2014. Intel is hoping that, with the backing of this impressive number of equipment makers, the technology will become widespread, leading to cost reductions along the lines of conventional webcams. Meanwhile, a number of other players are also planning to develop 3D cameras for use with mobile devices. Several years ago Microsoft offered a version of its Kinect 3D sensor camera for office computers, but did not succeed in gaining a foothold in this huge and diverse market. Now Californian startup Occipital should certainly be the first player to hit the mobile device market with its Structure Sensor, an augmented reality and 3D camera accessory for iPad. Last but not least, PrimeSense, which has developed a material used in Microsoft’s Kinect and has just been taken over by Apple, recently revealed that it is working on a compact version of this technology.

By Manon Garnier