The next big Thing in computing.

It’s without doubt going to be this lot, Or, at least, it’s going to be the product they are providing. There are actually 2 different companies hawking depth perception PC cameras right now – 3DV (who are Israel based) and are selling the whole thing themselves, and Free Sense, who are doing the basic technology and then reselling it on to people like Logitech to package up. As I understand it, we’ll start seeing these hit the shops before Xmas at around the $100 to $130 mark or so.

3D cameras are awesome. I had to do some investigation of them during GDC this year and what I found was pretty amazing in terms of what they can do. There’s a video here that shows some of the independent investigation and hacking of the Second Life Client which gives you the basic hint of what it can do.

However, I think the real advance we are going to see on this cameras in the UI applications. Basically the way these cameras work is that they provide not only a picture, like the normal web cams do, but also a black to white image that shows the depth of the video picture. So you get effectively a height map – stuff that is closer to the camera comes out whiter and stuff that is further away is darker. It looks a bit like a negative image.

So basically you can detect distance via the whiteness of the image, which enables you to detect hands moving at a set distance from the camera (or depth window – say, from the front of your keyboard to the back of your chair). This enables all that Minority Report Picture Moving stuff YouTube Video Here to suddenly work without gloves etc, plus all that double touch table stuff that Microsoft has been working on will Just Work with this (minus the auto grabbing of pics from cameras obviously).

I forsee in about 5 years your Dell and Apple Laptops just coming with this standard, and a new UI approach becoming standard that uses these thing and gestures more than we use a mouse today.

There you go. Nostradamus Simpson there for you. How’s that for a resuming of the Blog?

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