Tech Innovation

Video Chat Hits Third Dimension

Ken Kaplan Executive Editor, iQ by Intel

Intel RealSense 3D Camera technology in laptop, 2 in 1 and All-in-One computers is making live video chatting more immersive, interactive.

For many, video chatting on Skype, FaceTime or other apps is a natural, visual and emotional way to stay connected with loved ones and coworkers. It’s also helping doctors make house calls and students team up to get homework done.

Face-to-face video chatting is rapidly evolving with mobile apps like WeChat, Facebook Messenger and even via facial tracking animations like Pocket Avatar, but new digital camera technology being built into laptop, 2 in 1 and All-in-One computers is bringing this capability into the third dimension.

When computers can sense their owners distinctly from background elements, chat becomes more engaging, immersive and entertaining, according to Scott Dwyer, Intel RealSense technology marketing manager.

Imagine watching a movie online or playing with friends in different locations and being able to see their faces overlaid, not trapped in a box but just their figure, placed anywhere on the screen. By giving computers the ability to sense depth, Intel RealSense 3D Camera technology lets new applications like Personify do that and more.

“It’s new and novel and almost seems magical,” said Dwyer. “I like it because the tech makes you fully focus on your friend and things you’re interacting with.”

Using Personify, people appear to share virtual spaces, where they can work on projects, share documents or presentations, watch movies or sporting events and play games together.

The effect is similar to how green screen technology is used to make movies, TV shows and videos. For video chatting on a device with Intel RealSense technology, Dwyer said it’s really about depth not color.

“Green screen is often used because the emphasis is on the person not the background or because the person is filmed in one place but the scene is supposed to be in another location,” said Dwyer. “What Intel RealSense technology does is locks into the person, using real-time depth-of-field calculations that ignore data past a certain depth.”


In her review of Personify, Scarlet Paolicchi of Family Focus Blog wrote, “you can even get the green screen effect for yourself while you share other content like Prezi, PowerPoint slides, web pages and more. So you can record yourself ‘Personified’ on top of any content you’d like to interact with.”

Campus Technology recently reported on how instructors can use depth camera technology to record lectures that incorporate videos, PowerPoint presentations and online materials, and do them from almost anywhere.

“The instructor records himself with the depth camera, and Personify automatically filters out the background so the instructor appears in front of the presentation material in the video, just as if he had filmed himself in front of a green screen.”

Dwyer points out that the green screen effect is widely used by YouTube stars to create newscasts or talk shows, and services like Google Hangouts or Twitch have made it common to see several faces at the bottom or side of a screen, talking to one another while a presentation or live event is filling out the screen. But new apps that utilize the Intel RealSense 3D Camera are opening up new possibilities for video chatting, particularly around immersive collaboration.

“My personal favorite is the ability to pull in a friend and interact together with funny links we find on Reddit,” he said. “We can also play video games or watch a movie trailer, and it feels like we’re in the same room together. It’s just fun looking at same content together and laughing.”

He thinks it could come in handy whenever someone needs directions.

“We can pull up Google Maps and together point at places and routes,” said Dwyer. “In real life, we’re in different location but seeing the same map and able to reference it while having a conversation.”

11 Tricks Making Video Chats With Friends More Fun and Immersive by MentalFloss describes a video chat scenario where a team is working on interior design project. “You can bring up models and blueprints to better communicate your ideas. With Intel RealSense technology, you can interact with 3D models with the sweep of your hand.”

Computer manufacturers ASUS, HP, Acer, Dell, Lenovo, NEC and Fujitsu are each offering a range of laptops and All-in-Ones fitted with Intel RealSense 3D Cameras.

Dwyer said that just because he may have a computer with Intel RealSense technology doesn’t mean that his friend needs to have RealSense to see the experience.

“My friend who doesn’t have the new camera technology can still see an overlay of me with a custom background that I’m controlling with my Intel RealSense equipped computer.”

Personify is currently available in Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish languages.


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