People have been talking up the Kinect for its use as a 3D imager quite a bit lately, with a common refrain being, “wait until there are commercial applications for this.”
But it may be that Panasonic beats Kinect to the punch there.
I recently came across this press release about Panasonic Electric Works, which is the arm of the electronics giant that makes electronic components, factory automation, and industrial lighting components, teaming with Omek Interactive,
a developer of gesture recognition and full-body tracking solutions, “to enable gaming, digital signage and entertainment providers to create 3D experiences for consumers.”
A pretty clear explanation of time-of-flight technology. And a sharp skirt-suit to boot!
So I went and investigated what Panasonic’s got for a 3D image sensor. Check it out. It looks pretty slick, using time of flight technology to accomplish shape detection, which can then be applied in any number of ways. Sure, gaming and all that, but also security, medicine, and traffic control. You know, strap these on the fronts and backs of cars and no one ever smashes into anyone else.
You can find the full specs here. Sure, the resolution is pretty small right now, 160 x 120, and it only operates out to about 9 meters. But if Panasonic can do this and put it in this tiny little box (17cm x 5cm x 5cm – only 520 grams), how hard could it be to get some serious resolution in a slightly larger box?
I’d love to see what creative types could do hacking this thing.