Intel plans on being the brains and eyes of the Internet of Things. That was the clear message from the opening keynote at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco, as the company showcased its technology in everything from a smart vending machine to an immersive gaming system.
At the heart of CEO Brian Krzanich's presentation was RealSense technology – a system made from 3D cameras, sensors and software that opens the gates to accessible realtime 3D scanning, mapping and recognition.
The depth-sensing technology has been on the radar for a few years, but Intel unveiled a range of impressive updates and partnerships ranging from a gaming system with Razer to a smartphone with Google's Project Tango.
3D scanning smartphones
The partnership with Google will see the two tech giants working on a Project Tango developer kit that applies RealSense technology to smartphones. During the presentation a prototype phone was used to scan a room and generate a 3D mesh of the environment.
It was impressive to watch, and the implications could be enormous for virtual reality. Virtual filmmaking has the potential to be open to a much wider amount of people if environments can be constructed with little more than a quick scan of real life locations.
The eyes of the Internet of Things
"Robots have always had eyes, but until now there has never been a cost-effective way of giving them 3D vision," said Krzanich, before showcasing a robotic butler that uses RealSense. The robot, developed by Savioke, uses the real-time depth-sensing technology to negotiate its way through a hotel to bring room service to guests.
A smart vending machine was also shown off during the presentation, which uses RealSense gesture recognition to make selecting snacks easier. Why would you want to invest a heap of advanced tech in a drink dispenser? Well, the machine also harvests data to bring up targeted ads on an integrated screen.
Bringing RealSense to gaming
Continuing to showcase the accessibility of RealSense, Intel unveiled that the technology will be available on a gamut of platforms. As well as Project Tango, developers will be able to use RealSense with Windows, Android, Mac OS X, and game engines Unity and Unreal amongst others.
This emphasis on gaming was reinforced with two prominent partnerships - one with game-streaming site Twitch and another with Razer. The partnership with Razer will focus on a 3D depth-sensing camera (think next-gen Kinect), which in the case of Twitch can be used to scan streamer's faces and record them on screen.
Altogether, this emphasis on the Internet of Things and gaming signals a shift in Intel's focus away from the traditional personal computer market towards wider, interconnected platforms. It will be interesting to see what developers make of tools such as RealSense over the next few days at IDF.