Intel’s RealSense™ technology could put a 3D scanner in your mobile device.
The electronics giant has been exploring ways to incorporate 3D into mobile devices with its RealSense™ project. Recently they provided more details on how the technology could work.
Their goal is not only the ability to perform mobile 3D scans, but also other 3D activities, such as detection of gestures for gaming, drawing or device control. We’re still not certain people would be able to hold their arms up for hours controlling a device, but the 3D scanning capability could work.
Today’s mobile 3D scanning options are very limited and involve tedious and repetitive optical imaging capture of a subject that can only be successfully accomplished in ideal lighting and social situations.
Intel’s approach involves beams of invisible infrared light that bounce off a target. The camera carefully times the delay when detecting the reflection to determine the distance to the target. By repeating this over many points around the target, a complete 3D scan can be captured.
Intel is hoping the majority of tablets include RealSense™ tech by the end of 2015, but so far only a couple Android-based tablets include this feature. It has yet to become a mainstream feature. We suspect the barrier to success here is not the depth camera itself, but rather software that can easily drive the capture process. It is also likely that developers are focusing on other 3D uses of the technology, such as gesture detection.
Will 3D scanning become a key use of this technology? We’re not sure and neither is Intel. Currently Intel is soliciting for ideas through a challenge to create useful apps - and they’re paying USD$1,000,000 in prizes. That should coax out some interesting apps.