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back to article Microsoft focuses on 3D camera company

Microsoft is reported to be buying 3D digital camera company 3DV Systems for $34m, giving it remote gesture recognition technology. Israel-based 3DV Systems is a venture capital-backed startup that has raised about $38m from investors. The company was founded in 1996 by two Israeli defence industry scientists who had worked on …

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Happy

Death of the gamepad, or *Gasp!* even the mouse?

Seriously, take a look at the videos on the website, this is a really clever and low cost solution to gesture control. It's like the Wii controller without the controller, the only drawback is that you arn't holding anything to give you any feedback.

The camera looks pretty much like the ones available today, so I'm sure when this idea takes off every monitor and laptop is going to have a 3D camera fitted into it.

No I don't work for the company, I just think they are really onto something here which we will be seeing on computers and consoles in the future

BTW Reg, is anyone moderating comments this afternoon, none of the comments boards have had any comments added to them in the last couple of hours.

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Boffin

60fps giving a resolution of 2cm?

I don't think it's based on the time taken to reflect IR, that would be far too expensive for the home market. You'd need to be capturing images at about 100,000,000fps to achieve it to that resolution, anyway.

What I think is more likely is a shift in frequency of the IR light, like "Chirp sonar" but with IR light. Intensity shifting would be easier but more prone to interference. So you send out a variable-frequency "chirp" and depending on the received light you can find out how far through the chirp you were when you sent the pulse, giving a basic time-to-reflection without all the ultra-high-speed electronics required for time-of-flight.

Anyone know what the lag's like in use?

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Flame

Cool

Just like the PS2 Eye Toy...

Come on Microsoft keep up....

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Re: Cool

@ Mark.

The Xbox Live Vision is like the PS2 Eye Toy. Both are 2D. This camera can read depth as well, so is 3d..

Come on Mark keep up..

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Sounds like a project I did in school

I had worked on a personal project to create a 3d vector bump map from two video cameras in real time. I even published the results on my student page which is long gone. This was back in '01 I think.

Admittedly the resolution I had was low resolution NTSC video which was very noisy and required a lot of filtering resulting in low density output. Never the less it was optimized and ran at 30FPS on P2 era hardware with no visual latency which is better than I can get today with modern USB2 webcams at the same resolution. I sure felt more innovative then, the work that I get in industry today is very boring.

Wonder if I could resurrect that and debunk more recent software patents. It's an endless battle over the right of business types to patent math. Why should they get to claim ownership? I'm sure I wasn't the first one to do this either.

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Re: project

"They developed and patented technology that could work out the depth relationships of objects in a digital camera's field of view, in real time with high resolution. This was embodied in a chipset and in the ZCam 3D camera product range, now available in web-cam format."

Ah, when I read this the first time I assumed that this included 3d triangulation like my project, but looking at other sources it looks like their product is purely time of flash and does not use triangulation as the depth sensing technique.

Still, the patents should be on hardware only since the software algorithms are pretty obvious.

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Gates Halo

intriguing feature

"and for background replacement in web-conferencing"

If it means I can look like I'm dialing in from my aquarium - I'm sold!

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Silver badge

When I think 'xbox camera'

...I think this: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/08/31/

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Boffin

Any gesture recognition discussion.....

always reminds me of Zaphod Beeblebrox and the vid control scene in HGTG. Douglas Adams looks at gesture recognition and shows us how far we still need to go.

When the hand talking, gesticulating contingent of our society is silenced, then we can look at gesture recogniton as a control mechanism. The Wii relies on it combination of IR and RF to make control changes that respond to the movements of the Wiimote that are part of the programming. Move the Wiimote in the correct sequence and this particular event happens. Following Zaphod's example would we need to remember to wave our hand sideways twice - to indicate that we want the volume control - and then wave up to increase and down to decrease? Useability, that dirty word, always comes from simplicity. When controls get too complex then we get frustrated using them. BMW iDrive anyone?

Like many of them this is a great idea, just keep in mind how many great new ideas were abandoned after the inital enthusiasm wore off.

The one with the Donald Norman book in the pocket, Ta.

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