Intel Develops Depth Sensing 3D Cameras to Track Emotion

Intel is developing depth sensing 3D cameras and software that are able to detect an individual’s emotional state. While refined motion detection technologies are not entirely new, Intel’s product goes beyond tracking the physical movements of objects to determining what the movement actually means. Intel’s depth sensing technology will first be available in webcams and may eventually become available in laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Anil Nanduri, Intel director of perceptual products and solutions, told Network World that this new technology will “bridge the gap between the real and virtual world.”

“You’ll add the ability to sense your excitement, emotion — whether you are happy or smiling. The algorithms and technologies are there, but they are getting more refined, and as they get more robust, you’ll see them,” said Nanduri.

The camera sensor can detect someone’s emotional state based on changes in facial expression and eye movement.

“For instance, the camera sensor can extrapolate whether you’re enjoying a particular video game by tracking changes in your facial expression,” reports GigaOM. “It can determine whether a child engaging in a reading exercise is having difficulty with a particular word by detecting where his or her eyes are focused… It could let you manipulate items on screen just as you would in the physical world — using a virtual hand to pick things up, set them down and turn them on multiple axes.”

Intel’s approach is different than that of Microsoft’s Kinect. In addition to tracking motion, it extrapolates the greater significance of the motion.

The sensor can also detect the physical contours of an object in order to determine what the object is. This ability could be very useful for 3D printing, since the sensor could act as a 3D scanner.

GigaOM notes additional uses: “Such object interpretation could be a key component in connected car and autonomous driving systems being developed by Google and the automakers. Sensors within the car could not only detect the objects around them, but also could identify what those objects are — whether car, truck, deer, person or construction cone — and what their potential behaviors might be.”

Intel planned to include camera sensors with its TV service OnCue in order to identify viewers and tailor content recommendations to their taste, but the feature was abandoned over consumer privacy issues.

“Such depth cameras will be integrated into laptops and ultrabooks in the second half of 2014,” explains Network World. “The technology will initially appear in external webcams such as Senz3D external webcam, which was jointly developed by Logitech and Intel, and will become available in the coming quarters. The camera technology will ultimately trickle down to tablets and smartphones, Nanduri said.”