Intel’s Perceptual Computing Initiative

Geoff Walker, in his role as Senior Systems Architect at Intel, delivered a keynote entitled Interactive Computing Devices and Applications Based on Intel RealSense Technology. In explaining why Intel is pursuing its perceptual computing initiative, Walker made several points including, “If computers become ubiquitous and pervasive, we must be able to interact with computing as we do with each other: natural, intuitive, and immersive”.

He went on to describe why Intel is different from other companies in developing and applying depth-sensing cameras. First, rather than pursuing a single use model for depth sensing cameras, Intel is exploring everything one can do with depth in both the user-facing (front side camera) and world-facing (rear side camera) environments. Second, the company is producing miniaturized depth cameras with low power consumption for mobile devices. And third, Intel is using multiple depth camera technologies including structured light and both active and passive stereo 3D.

Current Intel products consist of: the R100 – world-facing “snapshot” depth camera; the F200 – user-facing depth camera, currently shipping in 2-in-1s, and all-in-ones; and the R200 – world-facing depth camera (60 fps video), to ship 1Q-2015. The R100 depth camera is launching in the newly announced Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet, shipping in November 2014. Intel’s success in miniaturizing the R100 depth camera is reflected in the fact that the Dell Venue 8 7000 is billed by Dell as the world’s thinnest tablet at just 6 mm thickness. The new Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet has an 8.4″ 2560 x 1600 AMOLED touch screen display.

Intel envisions that the F200 user-facing depth camera will find applications in immersive collaboration, gaming and play, natural user interfaces, learning and edutainment and more. The Intel F200 depth camera hardware is shown in the picture.

The somewhat larger R200 world-facing depth camera, as illustrated and with dimensions of 100 x 9 x 3.8 mm, is very compact and incorporates an IR sensor, IR laser projector, a color sensor, a second IR sensor and an image processor chip.

Intel envisions the R200 being employed to capture the world around the user in 3D, to enhance photos and videos, and for immersive gaming, education and collaboration. Walker mentioned that the Intel depth camera modules are gaining traction with big name OEMs (Asus, Acer, NEC, Lenovo, Dell, HP, Fujitsu, Lenovo, Toshiba) as well as with application software developers. To promote Intel RealSense adoption, the firm is sponsoring App Challenge 2014 with $1 million in prizes to developers. Intel has been steadfast over the past several years as I have attended their presentations on their perceptual computing initiative. It is now time to look for and evaluate consumer electronic products incorporating Intel’s depth cameras and to assess their value to consumers. – Phil Wright