Intel is really pushing RealSense as part of its vision for the future of technology, but devices with the tech inside finally made their debut in mainstream products at CES 2015. With more than half a dozen PCs and tablets from the likes of Acer, Dell, Lenovo and HP now shipping with the technology and more devices to come, a lot of consumers and business users will be getting systems with RealSense. But just what does it do? Here’s a quick guide.
RealSense cameras feature three lenses, a standard 2D camera for regular photo and video, along with an infrared camera and an infrared laser projector. The infrared parts allow RealSense to see the distance between objects, separating objects from the background layers behind them and allowing for much better object, facial and gesture recognition than a traditional camera. The devices come in three flavors: front-facing, rear-facing and snapshot.
Right now, the front-facing cameras are most common, appearing on a number of new PCs and allowing all kinds of gaming, gestures and communication. Rear-facing cameras will arrive on tablets later this year and focus more on 3D scanning. The Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet is the first device with RealSense SnapShot, which is made just for still photography and allows you to change the focus or measure real distances in a photo after it has already been shot.
RealSense Uses So Far
The chipmaker has demonstrated several ingenious demos of its depth-sensing technology. These are the 10 best uses of RealSense 3D so far, but many more are sure to come.
RealSense is really good at scanning faces and turning them into objects that can be used, not only in 3D printing but also in software.
3D Scanning for 3D Printouts
Though you won’t be able to buy a system with a rear-facing RealSense camera until later in the year, Intel has a prototype tablet that can scan people’s torsos and then 3D prints them as decorative crystal paperweights.
The potential is there to create not just interesting paperweights, but fully-functional 3D-printed objects. Just imagine 3D scanning one screw in so you can print out another one.
Green Screening Without a Screen
If you’re doing a video chat and want someone to see your face, but not the messy living room behind you, a program called Personify will automatically remove the background and replace it with a graphic or a plain white space.
Measuring Distances in Pictures
The Dell Venue 8 7000 tablet has the RealSense Snapshot camera, which adds depth information to photos it takes. With photos taken on the tablet, you will be able to measure the distance between two points by drawing a line on the picture.
Photo Layer Editing and Focusing
The Venue 8’s camera also allows you to change which layers of a photo are in focus, long after you capture the image. You can even use filters that transform the color of some layers while leaving others untouched.
Accurate Gesture Control
You can do gesture control with a regular 2D camera, but it doesn’t always work well, particularly if your hand blends into the background or you put one hand in front of another. RealSense can easily distinguish all your fingers from each other and from your body and the world behind you.
How do you make sure your new drone doesn’t run into someone else’s drone when you take it for a flight in the park? Intel showed off a sample drone with RealSense cameras on each side, allowing it to see how far it is from other objects and adjust its course to avoid a collision.
It’s hard to say when exactly RealSense will really hit its stride with the mainstream, but with Intel behind it in full force, it’s only a matter of time. I sure look forward to when it does.