Intel Acquires Movidius, a Computer Vision Chip Manufacturer
This is something that Intel is increasingly becoming interested in, which is why it is not surprising that this tech giant has decided to purchase Movidius.
This company is perhaps best known to Android users, since Movidius chips are a part of Google’s Project Tango. What sets this technology apart is the fact that it uses 3D mapping, indoor navigation and augmented reality. This should not be confused with VR devices and accessories, since Project Tango is meant to run on a standalone phone or tablet. Currently, you can find this technology in Lenovo PHAB 2 Pro smartphone, announced back in June 2016.
Another interesting application of Movidius computer vision chip can be found in DJI Phantom 4 drone. This is currently the best way to see today’s capabilities of computer vision chips as well as their future development, at least when it comes to drones.
The Phantom 4 is capable of hovering with great precision thanks to its Vision Positioning System. In a similar manner, the drone is capable of circling around any subject by locking it into its viewport. This means that it can achieve very smooth flight even while it is locked onto a subject. Finally, thanks to its vision chip, Phantom 4 can easily detect any kind of obstacles and react instantly.
Even though Intel is interested in taking advantage of this technology, it has the power to branch it much wider. As Intel’s SVP Josh Walden says: “Computer vision will trigger a Cambrian Explosion of compute”.
This being said, it can be assumed that Movidius technology will become a part of Intel’s RealSense brand. Perhaps the most interesting project that is being built under this brand is Intel’s Project Alloy. This is a virtual reality unit that works without any extraneous components.
What this means is that the VR unit comes with the computational and graphics power necessary to create the virtual images, along with a rechargeable battery for power, as well as 3D cameras and sensors. Still, this is not a typical VR unit, since it works by combining real-world surroundings with virtual reality.
If this sounds to you a lot like Microsoft’s HoloLens, you are completely right. However, the HoloLens is a platform that offers virtual-and augmented-reality applications, which is why Microsoft is trying very hard to attract developers.
This is where Intel comes into play, since Microsoft has made a promise that all Windows 10 PCs will include a holographic shell as soon as next year. This means that PCs will work with a head-mounted display in order to run Windows Holographic applications.
According to Intel, Movidius’ technology will find its way to VR/AR units, drones, robotics, digital security cameras, and beyond. Even though these product categories are yet to prove themselves out in the mass market, it seems that Intel is more than ready to offer the chips that power them.