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Intel envisions computers that "see"

The company releases open-source software that lets computers use cameras in the same way that people use their eyes to recognize objects and gain depth perception.

Intel has updated its open-source software to help computers use two cameras in the same way that people use their eyes to recognize objects and gain depth perception, the company said Tuesday.

The update came out of Intel's research lab in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. The lab's software library, dubbed OpenCV, allows a variety of groups interested in computer vision--from toy makers to industry robotics manufacturers to face-recognition software developers--to use a single, common set of program functions.

The library's source is accessible to the public and can be used royalty free. In the year since the original toolkit's release, Intel said, more than 75,000 copies have been downloaded and 2,000 people have registered with the OpenCV group.

The latest release, version 2.1, adds stereoscopic image processing to the suite of two-dimensional functions that had formed the foundation of the library. Stereoscopic image processing helps computers "see" images in the same way that humans do.

Intel cited faster chips, cheaper cameras and increased bandwidth for capturing video as reasons for an increased interest in such programming techniques.

The company's software center in Russia, founded in 1999, employs more than 100 computer researchers and engineers.