Seven notebook vendors signed on to use Intel's RealSense 3D camera

In recent years, Intel has spent more and more time talking about perceptual computing. Today, it introduced a RealSense brand that will cover future hardware and software products in the space. The first member of the family is the RealSense 3D camera familiar from Computex. This Intel-developed unit combines a "best-in-class" depth sensor with a 1080p webcam. It's thinner than two quarters stacked on top of each other, allowing the entire module to slip into typical notebook bezels.

The camera is accurate enough to track the movement of individual fingers, and the accompanying software can separate background and foreground objects. There's a lot of potential for neat webcam overlays, if you're into that sort of thing. Users will be able to take 3D pictures, as well, and Intel's collaboration with printing firm 3D Systems could help to turn those images into physical objects. Brace yourself for personalized bobblehead dolls.

Gesture recognition is part of the package, of course, but I'm more intrigued by the RealSense camera's ability to track eye movement. Unlike the gesture tracking, this capability doesn't require an outstretched hand.

Voice also falls under the RealSense banner. Intel's Mooly Eden believes that voice control is even more important than touch input and that it's a natural extension of how people communicate naturally. Intel has been working with speech recognition software company Nuance on the next-generation Dragon Assistant app, which provides voice-activated PC controls and information gathering functionality.

The first systems to integrate RealSense hardware will be available in the second half of the year. Expect to see the 3D camera integrated in machines from Dell, HP, Lenovo, Asus, Acer, NEC, and Fujitsu. The Dell is a convertible, and I suspect the camera will fit inside larger tablets without issue. Eden said a tablet-specific version is in development, too. That variant will probably be targeted at smaller 7-8" slates.

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