CNET visits Intel's Santa Clara, Calif., headquarters to learn more about its work with gestures, facial recognition, and eye tracking.
How many fingers am I holding up?
Welcome to Intel's perceptual computing lab, where the chip giant is researching "sensory inputs that make [computers] more human like," says Intel's Anil Nanduri. For instance: Current cameras in devices sense only in two dimensions, but Intel is pushing the use of 3D cameras. That will add depth to a video or photo, allowing more immersive uses. The company expects such cameras to be embedded into devices in the second half of 2014.
One possible use for perceptual computing technology is a sort of green screen instance. Because the 3D camera senses the outline of a person, it can cut that person out of his background and place him in another area on the screen. This can allow people to collaborate together more easily or do things like video blogging.
The main goal of Intel's perceptual computing push is making devices that are more human like. They need to make the experience more natural, intuitive, and immersive, says Anil Nanduri, one of the top executives in Intel's perceptual computing business.
Gaming is one particular area where gestures can be useful, Intel says. It altered the popular game "Pivotal" to allow gamers to use their hands as controllers, instead of using traditional game controllers or mouse and keyboard. Nanduri says gesture won't be used for everything in PCs and other devices, but for games, it can augment traditional controllers. "You can pick it up and use it when it's much more efficient than a keyboard and mouse," he says.
Augmented reality is possible with regular cameras, but 3D cameras add depth. One example Intel shows is a children's book that includes sound and other interactive features when placed in front of a 3D camera. When a user opens to a particular page a 3D scene pops up on screen. If a user moves the book closer to the camera, sounds from animals, for example, get louder. And a user can make it appear to snow by waving his hands over the book.