November 15, 2016 —
We are all pretty familiar with virtual reality (VR), which has been around for a while now. Augmented reality (AR) is another version of VR, a bit more recent. Now, the next reality has been unveiled by Intel – merged reality (MR).
Hype or reality (no pun intended), merged reality takes both VR and AR to another level by combining power, wireless communication, VR glasses, and a pair of RealSense cameras that face out to provide positioning information as well as video streams.
Using a head-mounted display (HMD), one can merge video from the real world into a virtual world, something that is limited in AR to a user’s normal view of the world.
The core of MR is the use of Intel RealSense cameras that provide 3D range information and video. This information can be utilized in a variety of ways, including incorporation into the VR environment presented by the user. This includes adding a view of someone standing in front of the wearer of the HMD. In a demo at the 2016 Intel Developers Forum, Intel’s Craig Raymond used a physical dollar bill with a virtual lathe to do virtual carving.
The cutting edge of this now is the Euclid mobile sensing system that includes a RealSense camera with an Atom-based processor and wireless support. It includes its own battery and runs Ubuntu Linux that also runs the Robot Operating System, which may run on a host of different operating systems and hardware platforms.
Intel’s commitment to RealSense is significant. It complements Intel’s processor and wireless technology. It remains to be seen if its idea of MR will complement or compete with AR and VR applications, but this is only the starting point. The technology will continue to improve, but it is at a point where it can be used to experiment with and deploy applications.