Augmented reality, 3D gaming and apps are coming to Android phones – courtesy of a team at Intel’s Haifa development center, which mated Intel’s RealSense technology together with the 3D capabilities of Google’s Project Tango.
The result was a demo smartphone used last week by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at a major Intel event in San Francisco to show off augmented reality/3D games on a smartphone. While there are other 3D devices on the market, as well as devices that understand gestures, there aren’t any that do both, as the Intel-Google device will.
According to Intel, the new Intel RealSense Smartphone featuring Project Tango “represents the best in depth and motion sensing technology integrated into a sleek and thin smartphone form factor. The prototype will allow Android developers to create new applications and experiences for the Intel RealSense technology and Project Tango ecosystems including 3-D scanning, indoor navigation, depth-enabled photography and video, measurements and immersive augmented reality and virtual reality.”
Intel has been trying for years to catch up in the smartphone game – so far with less than stellar success. While there are several notable Intel-inside smartphones on the market from Lenovo, Motorola, and others, the lion’s share of smartphones run on chips developed by ARM and Qualcomm. The phone demonstrated last week at the Intel Developers Forum (IDF) sported an Intel Atom x5 Quad-Core Z8500 processor, with the phone running a specially developed version of the Android Lollipop operating system.
RealSense is Intel’s version of advanced gesture-based computing. Built into a camera designed for smartphones, tablets, or any other “Internet of Things” networked device, appliance, or object, the system allows users to interact with the camera and computers, allowing them to, for example, change TV channel by moving their fingers in the air. Tango supplies the 3D side of the integrated system, with technology to understand movement, depth, and space.
The match between the two was made by Intel’s Haifa-based Perceptual Computing team, which will produce a software development kit for Android developers who would like to author apps based on the technology. Among the apps that Intel expects will be developed are games, educational apps (such as historical timelines come to life), professional apps (such as apps for architects and real estate agents) and augmented reality apps, where real-life people and objects are integrated into a smart device game.
While the system was demonstrated on a prototype device, its specs are being shown to manufacturers who, Intel hopes, will build devices with the Intel chips that enable the system to work. Indeed, Intel is looking to the new system as a real boost for its smart device business. “The combination brings a wide-ranging set of computer vision technologies into a single mobile platform,” said Intel.
“The solution is for Android developers to create new applications and experiences for the Intel RealSense technology and Project Tango ecosystems including 3-D scanning, indoor navigation, depth-enabled photography and video, measurements and immersive augmented reality and virtual reality. This complementary set of technologies enables Android developers to experiment with and create a new class of end-user applications on a single mobile platform.”