Intel wants to make robots smarter with Movidius acquisition

Chip giant Intel will swallow California-based chip outfit Movidius in a bid to improve robots' awareness of the real world.

Movidius is a company that specialises in low-power chip design for computer vision and machine intelligence algorithms.

By buying the firm, Intel hopes it will be able to use these capabilities to enhance its RealSense human-computer interaction camera technology that provides face, gesture and speech recognition and augmented reality capabilities.

"As devices become smarter and more distributed, we recognise that specific system-on-a-chip (SoC) attributes will be paramount to giving human-like sight to the 50 billion connected devices that are projected by 2020," said Intel's New Technology Group senior VP and general manager, Josh Walden.

"With Movidius, Intel gains low-power, high-performance SoC platforms for accelerating computer vision applications.

Walden said that these low-power and high-performance SoCs will make Intel's RealSense cameras able to track, navigate, map and recognise both scenes and objects more accurately, while opening opportunities in areas where heat, battery life and form factors are key.

"We will look to deploy the technology across our efforts in augmented, virtual and merged reality (AR/VR/MR), drones, robotics, digital security cameras and beyond," Walden added.

Movidius CEO Reml El-Ouazzane said the deal will provide the basis for new innovation in autonomous machines.

"Our vision processing unit platform for on-device vision processing [and] Intel's RealSense technology is a winning combination for autonomous machines that can see in 3D, understand their surroundings and navigate accordingly," he said.

Movidius is currently working with customers like DJI, FLIR, Google and Lenovo to give smart devices including drones, security cameras, and AR/VR headsets, the ability to see.

The deal has not yet been finalised, and terms between Intel and Movidius were not disclosed.