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Intel developing emotion-tracking cameras for laptops, tablets and phones

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Intel(s intc) is developing depth-sensing 3D camera technology that could go far beyond detecting mere shapes and motion to mapping the contours of physical objects and even the emotional state of individuals in its field of vision, according to a report from IDG News.

Intel director of perceptual products and solutions Anil Nanduri told IDG that this technology would “bridge the gap between the real and virtual world” through creating a level of interaction with our devices that goes far beyond the keyboard, mouse and touchscreen interfaces.

video conference

“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,” Nanduri told IDG.

For instance, the camera sensor can extrapolate whether you’re enjoying a particular video game by tracking changes in your facial expression. 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 on line of text. 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.

Refined motion detection technologies certainly aren’t new. Microsoft’s(s msft) Kinect has been in the market for years, while startups like Leap Motion are pioneering new motion-based interfaces for other consumer devices. But Intel seems intent not just on capturing motion but detecting specific objects or traits and extrapolating what the movement of those objects or features mean.

Leap Motion PC Flocking

Nanduri told IDG that the sensor could trace the contours and physical characteristics of an object and its field of vision and use that info to identify what those objects are. That could become a useful a tool in 3D printing, acting as an inexpensive 3D scanner. And though Intel didn’t cite this example to IDG, such object interpretation could be a key component in connected car and autonomous driving systems being developed by Google(s goog) 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 expects that this depth-sensing technology will be available in the next few quarters, first in standalone webcams and then embedded into laptops and ultrabooks in the second half of 2014. Eventually the technology would make its way into smartphones and tablets. We’ll be talking about new types of UI and experience design at our RoadMap conference in November in San Francisco.

Though Intel will probably tread carefully when positioning the technology. This isn’t the first time it’s talked about embedding intelligent cameras into devices. Intel’s planned TV service, OnCue, was supposed to come with a camera sensor that could identify specific viewers and tailor content recommendations and even ads to their historical tastes. Intel, though, looks to have dropped that feature from OnCue’s launch, probably because of pushback from consumers over privacy.

Feature image courtesy of Shutterstock user Yes Man

3 Responses to “Intel developing emotion-tracking cameras for laptops, tablets and phones”

  1. Am I the only one to think that people aren’t going to want cameras judging you and your emotions? I reckon people will be more comfortable with self-input technologies, just like FN is doing with their new emoticons, or even better, with sites like

  2. Ivory Dorsey

    Thanks Terry, once again, you are on the cutting edge of DISCOVERY. Here is what I think: Not only are the best things in life FREE (not withstanding having your basic needs met) ; but the interpretation of the things are generated by heartfelt FEELINGS. Relegating this interpretation to technology negates the need for life, flesh, and the pure joy of the impact of the generation and the experience of excitement. I am with Ric; no thanks. I can handle my own emotional interpretations and I want the joy of interpreting those with whom I encounter. Once again, thank you for alerting us to what is to come Terry.

  3. You know, this has two strikes against it for me. One, its Intel. They are never worth what they charge to consumers as AMD has demonstrated over the years. Two, this is ‘intrusive-tech’ and anything entering that market is bound to fail due to the high surveillance police state we live in.

    So, not just no thanks, but ‘get the hell away from me,’ NO!