The Realsense 3D Camera was unveiled at CES in Las Vegas this week, and according to Intel, it's designed to integrate into desktop PCs, tablets and laptops.
"This camera includes an on-board sensor capable of gesture and face detection which will allow it to understand emotions," said Intel Senior Vice President Schumel "Mooly" Eden.
On the more practical side, Eden says you can use the Realsense 3D Camera to scan objects in 3D (via Sense software from 3D Systems) which would allow you to use them as input for 3D printers.
According to the CEO of 3D Systems, Avi Reichental, his company is already hard at work finding ways to use the Realsense camera to create templates for 3D printers.
"It's about taking it from virtual to actual," Reichental said. "To make it something you can hold in your hand."
And more 3D printing companies plan to follow suit. Deals are already in place which will result in at least two more companies releasing Sense 3D printing, scanning and editing software on various devices using the 3D Realsense Camera as early as the second quarter of this year.
"We've already installed microphones so we can talk to the computer, but what about vision?" Eden said. "The whole world will transition to 3D the moment we can provide it. This is because it's natural – we see each other in 3D. We live in 3D, and we will compute in 3D. That's why we're unveiling an integrated 3D Realsense camera."
Calling it "the world's first integrated 3D depth and 2D camera module that helps devices 'see' depth much like the human eye," Intel say this latest device is more than just an answer to systems like Leap Motion and Kinect.
The device supports full-color 1080p and perhaps most interestingly, has an on-board sensor to detect gestures and recognize faces.
According to Eden, the underlying technology involved, Intel RealSense, will deliver new "immersive experiences" such as changing the way video conferencing and enhanced learning are conducted by integrating "augmented reality" and allowing users to capture – and share – 3D images.
Scholastic, a children's publishing education and media company, are also working to design interactive experiences for their Clifford the Big Red Dog and I SPY offerings. In the Clifford the Big Red Dog game, children can use arm and hand motions, spoken commands and touch as part of the experience.
"The camera knows the depth the same way we do," Eden said. "This lets us extract your face and body from the background, it can replace green screens."
According to Eden, a deal has already been struck with entertainment giant Dreamworks to further develop the camera as well.