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January 7, 2014

Intel announces 3D depth sensing cameras for laptops

Intel has said that laptops featuring 3D-camera technology will go on sale this year.

By Ben Sullivan

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Intel announced that seven firms would release products this year containing its 3D software and hardware, dubbed RealSense.

The depth sensors, planned for laptops, can be used to interpret gesture controls and can separate foreground objects from the background.

Microsoft’s Kinect and SoftKinetic’s Depthsense already offer these functions, with Apple recently buying Primesense, a firm that also offers depth sensing hardware.

However, Intel will be the first to introduce this technology in laptops.

One expert, as cited by the BBC, said that this intervention by Intel could help the innovation go mainstream as a built-in component.

"This tech has been knocking around for a while, but Intel’s move will give it fresh momentum," said Tony Crabtree, from the consultancy Juniper Research, who is attending the Consumer Electronics Show where the announcement was made.

"It needed a big player to help the market take off. Having said that, I don’t see it as a transformative technology in the same way wearables or ultra-high definition screens will be."

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Intel named Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo and NEC as the first manufacturers to release devices with the RealSense hardware.

Intel gave a demonstration during press day at CES 2014, showing off a version of Skype where the camera was used to isolate the user’s video image and superimpose it onto a different background.

This effect would normally require a greenscreen.

In another demo a member of Intel’s team played a ping pong video game by moving a real paddle in front of the computer’s camera.

Intel said that it had formed a partnership with 3D Systems, a 3D printer manufacturer, to let its kit be used to create real-world objects by shaping them in the air.

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