Intel is reported to be working on an augmented reality headset. For the chip maker, this could be a smart move to build new businesses outside its shrinking computer processor market. According to The Wall Street Journal, the chip maker is planning to exploit its 3D camera technology called RealSense in developing AR gear.
Using RealSense for other purposes
Intel can add more visual capabilities with RealSense. The 3D camera modules were initially sold as an improvement to personal computers, either facing the user using gestures to control actions in games or facing externally to track and measure objects and distances in the real world. Now the Silicon Valley giant will be using RealSense to improve new markets like drones and robots.
Rather than producing the device itself, the chip maker will be designing an AR headset and marketing it to a manufacturer The Journal said, citing unnamed sources. Augmented reality puts pictures on a view of the real world shown on the display of a device, whereas in virtual reality, users see only computer-generated scenes.
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Intel’s market share has come down with the growing use of mobiles, and CEO Brian Krzanich is determined to shift the company’s focus from its personal computer roots to a new direction. In January at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Krzanich’s keynote speech highlighted this changed focus, including the company’s $16 billion acquisition of data center-focused chip maker Altera, to its role in animating robots, Segways and drones.
Intel not new to VR/AR
Intel had already invested in virtual reality or VR by partnering with headset maker IonVR to make a smartphone-based device powered by something called MotionSync, a technology that eliminates motion sickness in the VR experience.
However, by delving into augmented reality, Intel will come into the same league as Microsoft, which has its HoloLens headset, and glasses made by companies such as Meta, ODG and Epson. Augmented reality is projected to be a $90 billion market by 2020. The chip maker already has a small advantage in this area with its work with Daqri, which makes enterprise-focused AR helmets powered by an Intel chip and RealSense tech.
“There is an awareness at Intel that they didn’t play as big a role in the mobile space as they would like,” said Daqri CEO Brian Mullins. “They understand that wearables and augmented and virtual reality are the next big platform.”