At Lenovo Tech World in China last week, Intel finally took all the wraps off its non-touch-and-gesture interface. LIRON SEGEV was there.
Every generation goes through a major technology leap in the way it interface swith machines. From the banging of the fingers on the typewriter to the keyboard to using a mouse and then a touchscreen.
Intel has been working on the next iteration of the way we interface with our technology and it all revolves around a non-touch-and-gesture world which Intel calls RealSense.
At Lenovo Tech World in Beijing, China, last week, Intel CEO Brian M. Krzanich demonstrated how RealSense was a way for a machine to engage with the real word, in real-time and in 3D, much as we do ourselves. He cited an example of being able to fly a drone without a pilot, autonomously, at 15 miles per hours. This is possible thanks to the way RealSense detects and understand its environment. Krzanich suggested that, in the near future, there will be no need to enter a password, as our computers will be able to recognize us and automatically grant us access according to the security level we are given.
Intel’s vice president in charge of Perceptual Computing, Dr Achin Bhowmik, √Ω elaborated: “While taking a picture is good for keeping memories, when converting the 3D world into 2D you lose details and the ability to interact”.
RealSense would like to keep the 3D world and, using the small camera, is able to recognise objects and allow developers to take action based on those object and their movements. The technology has advanced to the point that it is small enough that it is able to be integrated into portable devices such as phones, laptops and tablets.
This opens up a lot of application when you’re able to have a portable device that interacts in a 3D world.
Lenovo announced at Tech World that it will integrate RealSense into various upcoming devices, like the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15, Lenovo Z51, and ThinkPad E550.
Having learnt from the mobile world, Intel recognises that its all about the applications. If there are no applications, then users will not pay for those devices. However when applications are available that allow the user to play games, scan items into 3D printers ,and interact with videos by adding themselves as avatars to a video clip, then they will choose RealSense devices. Hence, making the Developer Toolkit available to developers is key.
Intel RealSense SDK
Currently the system is able to recognise facial expression with high accuracy, recognise joints on hands, render objects and mix them into the real-world, and separate background people from the main foreground person. These features are shipped with Intel’s RealSense and, with simple commands, developers can tap into these using APIs (application programming interfaces).
Of course, this technology is not aimed at replacing the keyboard and mouse. It is too early for that, as applications are built with keyboard specific input mechanisms in mind. It is easier to type an email with a keyboard then gesturing above virtual keys from afar. However, when it comes to turning a page in an electronic recipe book, this is an ideal scenario for the action to be completed via a hand gesture, “especially if your hands are full of chicken and spices”, joked Bhowmik.
Intel is looking at making adoption of this technology as simple as possible and is looking for intuitive gestures to be used, such as finger waving. This is natural and even children will instantly be able to understand what to do. Intel is trying to stay away from gestures that require learning, such as closed-fist-closes-app. “Let’s make it simple and straight forward for a child to do,” said Bhowmik.
There is a great opportunity for South African companies to become leaders in this sphere, which is a high growth area, especially with the growing popularity of virtual reality technologies.
* For more information about RealSense and how to begin developing applications for it, visit http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture
* Liron Segev is also known as The Techie Guy. You can read his blog at http://www.thetechieguy.com or follow him on Twitter on @Liron_Segev