Getting in Deep

3D Imaging Is Going Mobile

3D_lThe world isn’t flat, please remember that.

The world of devices is getting 3D-savvy, with imaging, input and output becoming 3D-aware. Software is able to detect and determine specific objects, and even their size and depth. It’s a technology shift which Microsoft and Sony brought to millions of living rooms. Laptop, tablet and smartphone makers should prepare to bring the experience their devices. Enterprise and consumer usage scenarios could drive a replacement cycle for devices.

Dell’s new Venue 8 7000 is an 8.4-inch Android tablet that runs on Intel’s Moorefield Atom Z3500 processor and has an Intel RealSense camera. This enabled the device to sense the depth of objects, allowing it to collect and use information about their size and distance. Intel lists some real-world uses of the technology that include detailed gesture input for object recognition and manipulation, accurate facial recognition, 3D capture for 3D printing and higher-quality conference calls. Intel is appealing to developers for more innovation with a $1 million application challenge.

Several companies are working to bring depth-sensing to mobile devices. Google’s Project Tango is a 3D-sensing tablet that uses 3D mapping technology for motion input and image capture. The device is currently being shipped to developers. Google is also bringing the same technology to smartphones. Amazon is using 3D technology in its Fire Phone, using the cameras to track the position of the user for a hologram-like user interface.

It’s clear that 3D is trending in mobile devices. Consumers have previously been indifferent to devices like 3D cameras, but new applications and services are making a compelling case for users. Technologies including 3D printing and gesture-based input are going mainstream. The devices are flat, but user interfaces no longer have to be. The trend for 3D is offering device makers an opportunity to stand out in the crowd.