TAIPEI, TAIWAN — In today’s world, computing means much more than just processing information. Your future laptop may be able to recognize your eye movements, follow your hand gestures or identify the nuances of your speech rather than just understand words, and it all starts with devices such as the Creative Senz3D camera.
During its keynote at Computex 2013, Intel unveiled the Creative Senz3D peripheral camera for laptops, which is a motion-tracking device that uses two camera lenses instead of one to create a deeper perspective. While the dual-lens technology separates the Senz3D from similar peripherals such as Leap Motion or the Xbox Kinect, it was the camera’s software that truly peaked our curiosity.
Though the Senz3D won’t be sold to consumers until later this year, the webcam itself has been included in Intel’s Creative Interactive Gesture Camera Developer Kit since last September. During that time, developers have used the device and Intel’s Perceptual Computing SDK to create a number of compelling applications, some of which are going to be commercialized while others are just proofs of concept. In an extensive briefing, Anil Nanduri, the director of Intel’s Perceptual computing Group, showed us how the camera’s gesture recognition capabilities can be used for video conferencing, news reporting, gaming and even education.
Rather than just enabling users to navigate a computer’s UI with gestures, the Senz3D’s growing app selection also seeks to change the way people video chat, record video, consume content and play games.
Intel showed us how the Creative Senz3D can integrate with Skype to simulate a more accurate face-to-face conversation or simply spice up your backdrop. Intel has collaborated with Personify to develop a Skype chat plug-in that lets you swap out your background for any template of your choosing. So, for instance, if you don’t want your boss or coworker to see your messy bedroom when working from home, you can change your setting to something a little more professional. You can also remove the background entirely and become a floating head on your friend or family’s desktop.
Using motion controls for gaming is nothing new, but Intel has announced that the gesture-optimized version of Valve’s Portal 2 will come as a free download with the Creative Senz3D camera at launch. The Creative Senz3D turns your hand into a controller, allowing you to look around your environment by waving your hand. You’ll still have to use the trackpad to move, but we were impressed with the way controls enabled the player to lift and throw Companion Cubes across the screen with just a wave.
According to Intel, developers are working on applications that take full advantage of the Creative Senz3D’s increased depth of field. In one demonstration, Intel showed us how the camera can turn a two-dimensional image into a three-dimensional graphic with motion and sound, using augmented reality. Nanduri cited a virtual pop-up children’s book as a possible real-world scenario for this technology, showing us how this works with an image of a farm from a children’s book.
As an Intel rep held up a 2D drawing in front of the camera, the software showed a 3D interactive farm in its place, complete with butterflies zipping around the 3D scene. What’s more, the animals in the scene actually respond to your movement. For example, if you move your hand toward the screen you’ll be able to hold the butterfly in the palm of your hand. Sounds also increased in volume when moving the book closer to the camera.
If you’re the type that loves to post videos to YouTube or just record for fun, you may be impressed with the Senz3D’s TouchCast app. This essentially lets users create different themes to use as backdrops while recording video, similar to the way Personify’s app integrates with Skype. Nanduri points out that the CreativeSenz3D also comes with a dual-microphone to enable accurate and clear speech input. The TouchCast app also comes with a whiteboard, so you can handwrite text or draw images while recording.
These are only a few ways Intel plans to integrate the Creative Senz3D into everyday desktop use. The dual-camera technology will eventually be integrated directly into laptops and tablets, but in the meantime we’re excited to learn more about what the Creative Senz3D can do.