Intel shows off RealSense 3D Camera, Dragon Assistant

Will Intel's bid to intoduce perceptual computing to consumers grow popular?

REALSENSE. Intel's Mooly Eden shows off a RealSense camera module. Photo from Intel

MANILA, Philippines – At a pre-opening presentation for the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2014) in Las Vegas, Intel announced its plan to let people interact with their computers in an entirely new way: by letting the computer see, hear, and recognize its user, working accordingly to that user’s commands through perceptual computing.

The plan begins with two things: Intel’s new RealSense 3D camera and the Nuance Dragon Assistant designed for use with RealSense technology.


The RealSense 3D Camera is an integrated 3D depth and 2D color camera module supporting up to 1080p resolution. The camera lets devices see depth the way the human eye does.

This allows the camera to detect finger-level movements for gesture recognition and control and facial features for movement and emotion recognition. Among its features, the RealSense camera can understand foregrounds and backgrounds, enhance interactive augmented reality, and scan items in 3 dimensions.

Intel’s camera will be integrated into a number of Intel-based devices, such as 2 in 1 devices, Ultrabooks, tablets, notebooks, and all-in-one designs. Acer, Asus, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo and NEC will provide systems that have the new camera starting in the second half of 2014.

SKYPE WITH REALSENSE. Mooly Eden and Justine Ezarik demonstrate Intel's RealSense 3D camera for liveblogging. Photo from Intel

In line with this, the company announced some of its partnerships during its CES keynote. Intel and Microsoft aim to bring more immersive video calling experiences, allowing RealSense camera users to make video calls via Skype and Lync with removable or replaceable backgrounds. In its announcement, Intel said users could switch out the background in a call and replace it with a custom background, a business presentation, or even a movie.

Intel also teamed up with media company Scholastic to introduce interactive software – starring the “I Spy” and “Clifford the Big Red Dog” franchises – which can be controlled with hand and arm gestures.

The company also joined forces with 3D printing company 3D Systems. By the second half of 2014, 3D Systems will have consumer versions of its Sense 3D scanning, editing, and printing software applications on Intel-powered machines using the RealSense camera. 3D Systems also intends to introduce its scanning technology to developers by making it part of Intel’s RealSense software development kit.

Dragon Assistant

Intel also brought out the importance of hearing during its CES presentation.

Aside from the RealSense 3D camera, Intel announced that the Dragon Assistant software of Nuance would now be avaiable on a number of Intel-based systems – 2 in 1 computers, Ultrabooks, notebooks, and all-in-one devices – from various manufacturers.

The Dragon Assistant is a personal assistant program that works with popular websites and applications. The software enables voice recognition commands on the machines that use it, with a selection of personalities and voices to choose from. The Dragon Assistant software lets you speak to your computer to get it to play music, find an answer online, or dictate notes offline. It can also check your calendar or help you find maps or directions.

At present, Acer, Dell, Hewlett-Packard (HP) and Lenovo have Dragon Assistant in the mentioned systems, with Asus and Toshiba to follow within early 2014. Lenovo will also have Dragon Assistant available on tablets in early 2014.


For consumers, this would translate into having some new, or at least better-refined, ways to control devices. The RealSense camera allows for fine gesture control, and can translate into more immersive experiences when it comes to education, gaming, or other forms of personal entertainment.

The 3D scanning capability would also invite prospective sharing of 3D images for work or social functions. Combined with its team-up with 3D systems, an uptick in adoption of the RealSense Camera could bring greater visibility to the 3D printing and imaging technology sector.

While adoption of the RealSense camera and Dragon Assistant technologies will depend on people’s comfort on computers that can see and hear them, Intel looks to be working towards making this a starting point for changing how people view computers and their uses.

Perceptual computing may end up being a worthwhile trend to watch out for in the years to come. Let us wait and see what happens. –

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