Intel Camera Puts Your Face on 3D Models

Your next laptop could capture realistic 3D images of your face, respond to gestures with great accuracy or even mimic your expressions, thanks to a new generation of depth-sensing webcams due out later this year. Intel's Perceptual Computing group has been working with hardware partners to integrate the new cameras into notebook computers while adding additional back-facing "world cameras" to tablets that will do detailed 3D captures of environments.

At Computex 2014, Intel showed off the tiny embedded front and back-facing cameras while announcing an enhanced RealSense camera and SDK for developers. The new RealSense camera, which is targeted at developers who want to test their own 3D camera-enabled apps, captures 3D images at 640 x 480 (four times the previous generation) and 60 fps.The camera recognizes 22 joints on the human hand and seven points on the face to make gesture and facial recognition even more advanced.

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In a brief demo, Intel Senior Vice President Mooly Eden and showed us how the new camera and SDK can accurately capture a human face and then place it onto a variety of 3D models. A member of his team launched a face capture app and stared directly into the camera then turned his head slightly to the right and then the left as the software directed him.

Eden explained that it's not necessary to get a 360 degree view of one's head to do an accurate facial capture and that simply capturing the sides of the face up to each ear is sufficient. After the initial face capture, the software prompted the engineer to manualy select a few key points on his face such as his eyes, nose and mouth.

With his face captured, the Intel engineer was able to select the body of a knight and watch as the software rendered his head onto it. He then chose a super hero body and the software changed the model. Another Intel rep showed us 3D printed models of his head on Michael Jordan's body. In another brief demo, the engineer showed how a character on screen mimicked his facial gestures in real-time.

Intel hasn't announced pricing or availability for the new RealSense camera and SDK. However, users will see the inward and "world" facing cameras appearing on their laptops by the end of 2014 with tablets soon to follow. 

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Avram Piltch is Tom's Hardware's editor-in-chief. When he's not playing with the latest gadgets at work or putting on VR helmets at trade shows, you'll find him rooting his phone, taking apart his PC or coding plugins. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram developed many real-world benchmarks, including our laptop battery test.