“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” so what I am about to share is really hush hush… Walking the halls of every part of CES 2016, there are 3 pervasive themes that ring out almost too loud and clear – drones, virtual reality, and IoT/Smart Homes. As a Frontier Tech investor, this is very encouraging for the speed of the marketplace, while, at the same time, it is scary also, so much glut of me2s in the industry. I mean, really, how many companies can the drone hobby market support?
One of the biggest impressions on me from CES 2016 was the prominence of Intel’s RealSense acquisition into their future strategy. RealSense is a computer vision technology that leverages three cameras that act like one — a 1080p HD camera, an infrared camera, and an infrared laser projector, to “see-like a human eye” to sense depth and track human motion. According to Intel’s website, “RealSense technology redefines how we interact with our devices for a more natural, intuitive and immersive experience, supported by the powerful performance of Intel® processors.”
The bigger story of RealSense is the evolution of the technology from mobile to virtual reality to drone navigation. According to Intel, the new Intel RealSense Smartphone featuring Project Tango “represents the best in depth and motion sensing technology integrated into a sleek and thin smartphone form factor. The prototype will allow Android developers to create new applications and experiences for the Intel RealSense technology and Project Tango ecosystems including 3-D scanning, indoor navigation, depth-enabled photography and video, measurements and immersive augmented reality and virtual reality.”
Intel has been trying for years to catch up in the smartphone game – with less than stellar success. While there are several notable Intel-inside smartphones on the market from Lenovo, Motorola, and others, the lion’s share of smartphones run on chips developed by ARM and Qualcomm. The phone demonstrated last week at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) sported an Intel Atom x5 Quad-Core Z8500 processor, with the phone running a specially developed version of the Android Lollipop operating system.
RealSense is Intel’s version of advanced gesture-based computing. Built into a camera designed for smartphones, tablets, or any other “Internet of Things” networked device, appliance, or object, the system allows users to interact with the camera and computers, allowing them, for example, to change the TV channel by moving their fingers in the air. Tango supplies the 3D side of the integrated system, with technology to understand movement, depth, and space.
Another example beyond VR and Drones for RealSense is robotics. Segway’s new hoverboard has an Intel RealSense eye, which is useful for when the self-balancing board morphs into a personal robot. The company showed off the multipurpose hoverboard during a presentation at CES 2016 in Las Vegas on Tuesday.
It’s a new leaf for the Segway company, which was recently taken in by China’s Ninebot. The Ninebot Segway employs a bar-less build, giving users hands-free control over the self-balancing board. But beyond that, the Ninebot Segway has a mind of its own.
“For years, there has been the promise of a personal robot that would provide real help in and around the house,” Ninebot says. “This Tuesday at CES, Segway took a big step towards making that dream a reality with its Segway Robot showcase in the opening demo for the CES16 Intel Keynote.”
When a rider hops off of the hoverboard, the Ninebot Segway can shape shift into a robot that’ll follow that person around, taking pictures and commands. The robot uses Intel’s RealSense camera to make its way around dynamic environments and it can interact with both users and sensors in the home. The robot also has an Intel Atom processor inside.
The Ninebot Segway also includes a depth sensing camera, fish eye tracking camera and a camera for taking photos. The Ninebot Segway can get smarter. The robot’s platform is open and compatible with Android, and the company has issued a call to developers to have a go at it.
“Segway plans to make the robot commercially available and will initially introduce a developer kit based on Android platform in second half of this year,” Ninebot says. “Developers worldwide will be able to use this SDK to allow the robot to perform new applications and to interact with other devices.”
Intel hopes that RealSense will enable devices makers to use more Intel chips by offering a new ecosystem of computer vision for the post-PC era.
According to Intel representatives, “The combination brings a wide-ranging set of computer vision technologies into a single mobile platform…the solution is for Android developers to create new applications and experiences for the Intel RealSense technology and Project Tango ecosystems including 3-D scanning, indoor navigation, depth-enabled photography and video, measurements and immersive augmented reality and virtual reality. This complementary set of technologies enables Android developers to experiment with and create a new class of end-user applications on a single mobile platform.”
Of course, walking across the hall, Qualcomm had their own drone mapping technology on display. The difference between the two feature sets is that RealSense is not limited to photography and mapping, but a robust platform for the new age of autonomous mobility, robotics, virtual reality and yes IoT.
One last snapshot, readers what do you think of this self-driving eco-car?