Every generation goes through a major technology leap in the way they interface with machines. From the banging of fingers on the typewriter to the keyboard to using a mouse and then a touchscreen. Intel has been working on the next iteration of the way we interface with our technology and it all revolves around a non-touch-and-gesture world which Intel calls RealSense.
At Lenovo Tech World,Brian Krzanich, Intel CEO, demonstrated how RealSense is a way for a machine to engage with the real-word, in real-time and in 3D much like humans interact with a 3D world around them. Citing an example of being able to fly a drone without a pilot at 15 miles per hour autonomously. This is possible due to the way RealSense detects and understands its environment. Brian suggests that in the near future, there will be no need to enter a password, as our computers will be able to recognize us and automatically grant us access according to the security level we are given. “We become the password and our computers will detect our presence in real time and in 3D”
Intel’s Dr. Achin Bhowmik, Vice President & General Manager, Perceptual Computing (RealSense), talks about “whilst taking a picture is good for keeping memories, when converting 3D world into 2D you loose details and ability to interact “ RealSense would like to keep the 3D world and using the small camera is able to recognise objects and allow developers to take action based on those object and their movements. The technology has advanced to the point that it is small enough to be integrated into portable devices such as phones, laptops and tablets. “This opens up a lot of application when being able to have a portable device that interacts in a 3D world” and Lenovo has announced that they will integrate RealSense into their various upcoming devices such as the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15, Lenovo Z51, Lenovo ThinkPad E550
Having learnt from the mobile world, Intel recognises that its all about the Applications. If there are no applications, then users will not pay for those devices. However when applications are available that allow the user to play games, scan items into 3D printers and interact with videos by adding yourself as an avatar to a video clip, then the users will choose RealSense devices. Hence, making the Developer Toolkit available to developers is key.
Currently the system is able to recognise facial expression with high accuracy, recognise joints on hands, render object and mix them into the real-world, separate background people from the main foreground person. These features are shipped with Intel’s RealSense and with simple commands developers can tap into these using APIs (programming interface)
Of course this technology is not aimed at replacing keyboard and mouse. It is too early for that as applications are built with keyboard specific input mechanism in mind. It is easier to type an email with a keyboard then gesturing above virtual keys from afar. However,when it comes to turning a page in an electronic recipe book this is an idea scenario for the action to be completed via a hand gesture “especially if your hands are full of Chicken and spices” jokes Bhowmik.
Intel is looking at making adoption of this technology as simple as possible and therefore it is looking for natural intuitive gestures to be used such as finger waving. This is natural and even children will be able to instantly understand what to do. Intel is trying to stay away from gestures that require learning such as closed-fist closes an app. “lets make it simple and straight forward for a child to do” concludes DR Achin Bhowmik.
There is a great opportunity for South African companies to become leaders in this sphere which is a high growth area especially with the popularity of Virtual Reality technologies. For more information about RealSense and how to begin developing applications for it, check out Intel’s page here .