Intel Merged Reality at CES

Intel has just turned the VR world on its head with a new way to interact virtually using your hands, but without using additional gear to do it.

After writing about multiple products concerned with bringing your hands into the virtual world with you, with all your fingers intact (take a look at our coverage of the AxonVR, the Senso gloves, and Noitom’s Hi5 glove utilizing the Vive Tracker which was reported on just yesterday.), I am bowled over by the paradigm shift Intel has created in virtual manipulation technology, which at the same time nearly invalidates a virtual raft of ideas being worked on by multiple VR peripheral startups.

Some details were revealed at Intel’s expansive CES booth by Aneet Chopra, Business Head of AR/VR at Intel.I have shared here a video taken by uploadVR‘s Joe Durbin where what Intel refers to as “merged reality” is demonstrated. Described simply, it shows a video of the demonstrator’s *actual hands* inside the virtual reality shown on the screen, and these hands are able to interact with virtual balloons that populate this virtual world with a fine degree of precision.

What’s jaw dropping is that this is done by merely making use of Intel’s RealSense camera, and without any tracking peripheral like the Vive Tracker, or any of the tracking technologies to be used by the startups trying to get a virtual glove to market. Accuracy seems very high as well, with individual fingers all accounted for and moving in a natural, real way, and with no perceptible delay.

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Part of the message Aneet wanted to emphasize was Intel’s belief in the “pillars of merged reality” for believable, immersive VR/AR, with the demonstrated controller/tracker free tracked hand movements an indispensable factor for “natural manipulation”. The other two pillars are untethered movement without wires tying you down to a PC and integrated tracking – demonstrated ably by Intel’s Alloy project and obviating the need for external sensors like the Vive Lighthouses or the Rift Sensor.

Intel’s “what if” intro to project alloy and the three pillars of merged reality.

Access Intel’s blog for highlights on their 2017 CES Intro for VR/AR and Project Alloy here. Alloy description starts at the 5:28 mark.

I look forward to how much the technology will change (and improve!) in the next few months, and if the improvements are anything like what Intel has come up with, VR is going to become even more of  a real doozy of a media experience.

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