Intel’s vision to be chip vendor of choice in growing VR headset market

3 Mar 2016

Revealed at CES 2016, the DAQRI Smart Helmet superimposes work instructions over a worker's field of vision. It improves recall, instruction repair and remote assistance in manufacturing, aerospace, oil and gas, and other industries. The helmet is built on an Intel 6th Generation Core processor platform and uses an Intel RealSense SR300 camera

Chip giant Intel is joining the crowded virtual reality race that includes Samsung, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, HTC and others. It is hoping to make its mark on the fast-evolving world of virtual and augmented reality using its RealSense 3D technology and 6th Gen Core processor technology.

Intel’s RealSense 3D technology can use cameras to measure depth and allow computing devices to read facial expressions and gestures.

Beyond virtual reality, forthcoming headsets like HTC’s Vive and Microsoft’s HoloLens allow users to overlay the virtual world on top of the physical world in real-time – augmented reality – and the burgeoning space could be the catalyst for Intel to make and sell billions of chips.

Future Human

Despite powering the PC revolution with its Pentium processor and profiting hugely from the explosion in cloud and data centres, Intel is widely acknowledged as having missed the boat on mobile, handing the baton to faster and more nimble rivals like ARM.

Virtual and augmented reality could be the next frontier for chip technology

Intel will face a race against time to not only demonstrate the prowess of its headset and RealSense 3D technology but also to ensure it becomes the vendor of choice to provide chips for the VR and AR world.

At the recent CES, Intel unveiled a smart helmet created by DAQRI and powered by RealSense and a 6th Gen Core processor that overlays vital instructions to the field of vision of workers in the oil and gas industries, for example.

Already, Irish technology company Movidius has been selected by Google to provide chips that enable its next-generation VR headsets to perform without being tethered to mobile devices.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Intel is hoping its RealSense 3D camera technology will be a distinguishing feature in what is becoming a very crowded space.

The company, it appears, is well aware that it faces a time and perception battle to get its technology in front of future customers.

“We have to build the entire experience ourselves before we can convince the ecosystem,” said Achin Bhowmik, head of RealSense and general manager of Intel’s perceptual computing group.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years