Want to ask your computer questions with your voice and control it by moving your hands, without touching the screen or the keyboard? Want to scan your coffee cup and see it in 3D on your monitor?
This year all of this will be possible thanks to a revolution in computing technology - Intel RealSense and HP Sprout. The technologies make shifting between the physical and digital worlds much easier.
What is Intel RealSense?
A 3D camera built into your computer, designed by computing giant Intel. It can sense depth and see and recognise people and objects in 3D. It's designed to make it easier for you to interact with your computer.
Why do we need it?
We use our hands to express ourselves, to communicate, to create - all in 3D. But until now the way we interact with our devices has been in 2D - taps on keyboards, clicks of mice and swipes of touchscreens. HP says this 'limits what's truly possible'.
Will it change how I use my computer?
Yes. The 3D camera can recognise movement taking place in front of and around it - opening up new ways of working, gaming, printing, photographing and interacting.
4 examples of how the RealSense camera is used
1) Control your computer by moving your hands: The camera picks up your hands' movements. Use them to:
• Swipe through menus and scroll down pages without touching the screen - great if you're in the middle of cooking
• Zoom in and out by pulling your hand closer to and farther from the screen - great for working in close-up
• Use your hands to twist and turn an object on screen, e.g. if you have scanned in a vase, ornament or other 3D item
• Play games - use your hands to fly a dragon
2) Revolutionise your Skype chats:
Chat with your friends on Skype with your image set against a totally different background. Here, the depth-sensing camera can separate objects from their background - it's a bit like a green screen in the movies.
3) Scan objects and people in 3D:
Take a 3D scan of an object so you can rotate it on-screen 360 degrees - perfect for something you're selling online, or for a work project.
4) Ask it questions with your voice:
Speak to your computer and it will listen. When cooking, ask it how to chop a pepper and it will show you. Want to share the knowledge with a friend? Merely say 'send to' and it will do the rest.
What about HP Sprout? Future 3D scanning
Interested in 3D scanning and printing? HP Sprout is a new 'blended reality' computer designed to get the best from the RealSense camera.
With it you can scan in, adapt and then print objects in 3D - HP showed how objects such as coffee cups and pens could be simply scanned.
Sprout is a Windows desktop PC, with a projector fitted over the screen and a touch-enabled track-pad where your keyboard would usually go. The Intel RealSense camera is built in.
You can work on what you have scanned by drawing, tapping and dragging along your track-pad. You can also work on the object on the touchscreen monitor.
3D printing - a new industrial revolution?
It's designed to be used with 3D printers, so you can send objects scanned in 3D to print in 3D.
This will have limited appeal at home, however 3D printing is set to revolutionise healthcare, manufacturing and logistics - with sales of 3D printers set to rise 98% this year.
HP also unveiled new 3D printers which it says are 10 times faster than those already available.
Where can I get RealSense and Sprout?
Acer, Asus and Lenovo will be among those releasing computers with built-in RealSense cameras in 2015.
Sprout from HP is now available to buy from the Currys PCW Website and can be seen in the Tottenham Court Road Store.
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