IDF: Intel partners with Google to bring RealSense to Project Tango

Intel has unveiled updates to a technology that allows users to control devices without touching them.

The development, called RealSense, has undergone a number of upgrades, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich in a keynote speech at the firm's annual developer conference in San Francisco yesterday, which will bring depth sensing to more devices and applications.

RealSense offers depth sensing capabilities to 3D cameras, sensors and other software, and the technology should make real-time scanning and mapping more affordable to the public.

"Computers are on our desks, in our bags, in our clothes, in our homes and on our bodies. They are not only growing smarter and more connected, but gaining senses and becoming an extension of ourselves," he said.

Intel also lifted the lid on its collaboration with Google on its Project Tango developer kit that uses RealSense on smartphones.

In a demonstration, a prototype phone sporting the depth-sensing technology was used to scan a room and create a 3D mesh of it. The developer kit for this technology is slated to be released to developers by the end of the year.

The RealSense technology could also be used to give robots better 3D vision, according to Krzanich, who unveiled a robot developed by a firm called Savioke that uses real-time depth sensing to move through a hotel to serve guests.

Krzanich also demonstrated a vending machine fitted with a RealSense camera that allows the machine to identify a person, their gender and even their age before displayting targeted ads to that person via a transparent display. As the machine uses RealSense, the person can order items without touching anything.

As well as Windows and Android, developers will be able to use Intel RealSense technology with Mac OS X, ROS, Linux, Scratch, Unity, XSplit, OBS, Structure SDK, OSVR, Unreal Engine 4 and Google's Project Tango.

Also, a number of developers including Razer, XSplit and Savioke announced new platforms, peripherals and other solutions based on the tech.

Krzanich provided updates on the Intel Curie module aimed at wearables, the tiny, lowpowered device is aimed at consumer and industrial wearable devices. It includes a Quark system-on-chip, Bluetooth, a DSP, and charging silicon.

In a demo, BMX bikers had the chip implanted on the handlebars and seat that recorded data from the rider jumping over a ramp and gave real-time analytics on every turn and trick, such as air time, max height, bar spin, landing impact and so on. Riders can then analyse this data to improve performance.

Another use of the technology would be in the enterprise. Intel's Identity IQ sees a Curie chip embedded in a bracelet that an employee wears that allows them to access a computer without needing to enter a password every time. The technology could also be extended to access buildings, systems and cloud services.

Bizarrely, this section of the keynote ended with Krzanich using a bracelet with Curie technology embedded in it to control an army of spiders to dance.

Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.