Features

Published on August 31st, 2015 | by Varuna Singh

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Intel’s RealSense technology defined IDF15

  Last week, I was at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco.  IDF is a big conference and forum where every year Intel gets to show to the public and media what they have been working on. Intel is a $55 billion dollar company and they have come around to be not only known in making processors. Think of IDF as a mini CES… just for Intel related things.
When you’re a silicon fab company, you are the closest to hardware innovation
  When camera 3d mapping was a hot topic, we saw some impressive innovation from Xbox Kinect, the LeapMotion and Google’s own Project Tango. We all felt the immersive and interactive tech world coming back. VR then became interesting and it resulted in the kind projects like Oculus and Vive we see today.

RealSense is Intel’s Perceptual Computing platform. It’s simply all about making sense of the real world around you. The technology enables modern computers to devices to make sense of the real world by sensing, seeing and mapping it. Technically speaking RealSense hardware using its sensors, map the world around you. It detects areas within 2 meters around it and can now do with quite some precision. The RealSense block typically has a Camera, an IR laser projector, IR camera and a microphone array.
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I also managed to get my face scanned in just over a minute.

Here are all the RealSense products showcased at IDF15
    A company called Memomi is using the RealSense sensors in side an electronic “mirror”. The mirror is essentially a big screen but the important bit is the sensor magic. Memomi has made a product that can change the color or texture of your shirt for you so you can make a quicker decision on how something would look on you. Think about the retail opportunities with this.
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Did we mention Robots? The cutest robot goes to RoZie. Rozie reacts to your hand gestures by motion itself and can also counter react making it fun for children and adults. It uses a previous generation of RealSense camera by Creative that you can buy today.

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There is a new robot that is using RealSense technology to sense and tackle obstacles. It is currently being used in a hotel. Its name is relay and it is running ROS, or Robot Operating System. You can order ROS from a service plan. The company Savioke makes these robots that are aware of their surroundings and map the venue they are in. They even find themselves a ROS charger and charge themselves up.
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At IDF 2015, Razer announced their consumer gaming product that can both be used mounted at the top of your gaming Screen, or even attached to an Oculus Rift. You as a gamer can use your hands on control the game you are playing in front of you, or the game you are immersed in.
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The Open Source V R group or OSVR did exactly that. They used the new Razer RealSense product that will go on sale soon and without much modification, you can use the sensors to add elements in the virtual world.
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CES Intel Keynote  (15)
At IDF 2015, RealSense technologies and applications were EVERYWHERE.
RealSense has also been in the news, it takes about 72 points of data of your face to authenticate you over Windows Hello: a new security feature in Windows 10 that would be made possible by RealSense hardware.
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We also saw a guitar set up where using your hands and you could either play drums or guitar. It was very gimmicky but it did what it was promising.
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Intel also teased us a device 8 months back with a screen less display. This set up uses reflections and optics to give you the illusion that the display is in mid air. It works really well and it uses RealSense to trigger your taps in thin air. In the demo below you can control the music, tweet something and even control photos with the device. The hovering screen less display as well as the main display together were a bit distracting. This isn’t consumer ready but it demonstrates where optics is headed with respect to Minority Report style interactions.
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Robots came as spiders as well with RealSense sensors.
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Speaking of gimmicks, the HP Sprout PC that is already available at Sharaf DG was on display as well. It does a fairly okay job but it can get annoying at times. I highly recommend you check one out here.
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Gaming is always an interesting. With your hands, we’ve seen you become the controller. But with more precise and close tracking, a lot of demos at stage were cool, but nothing we haven’t seen before. In the game below, you can control an energy ball with your finger and navigate through the level.
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This particular racing rig has a Razer RealSense camera. With the extra sensors, it can react to your vision. If you look left, it will slook slightly to the left . It takes advantage of the fact that you are stationary and immersed on the road with respect to the sensor.
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You can get RealSense enabled laptops today but they aren’t going to be the slimmest laptops you have. Last year there were just prototypes and this year we have products. The year before that in 2013, RealSense was a big block of technology that did a basic version of what it does today.
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This year at CES, Intel showcased a dance performance and mapped it in real time at CES 2015. It was using its cameras rigged. While it proved the point really well, it didn’t really showcase a product. This year at IDF we saw RealSense’s applications. We saw companies, retail, kids and even the 3D modelling industry using it.
CES Intel Keynote  (23)
We got to experience the new hardware and diverse applications RealSense is part of now as a platform. It has a following, a line of products in the works of which some of them already on shelves you can buy today.
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Intel has a very good head start and understanding at the silicon level. They have been pioneering in and with that kind of IP, Intel as a company has been working with hardware and software vendors’ right from the start. They know how the trade & industry works and are shaping it in ways that really interesting. The problem is they are trying to build momentum. Intel has been doing its announcements in batches and events to keep the buzz in the air. After 5 months, Intel will go again on a stage keynoting CES 2016 and will probably tease first and then show progress. That might leave a lot of burning questions in the mean time.

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About the Author

I work with technology in Education. I also write stuff. I love design and people. @varunasingh



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