January 17, 2024

Orbbec announces new camera and new partnership

The 3D vision system and camera provider made two announcements around robotics at CES 2024.
Gemini 2 XL | Image via Orbbec

This month, Orbbec, a provider of 3D vision systems and cameras, made a pair of announcements around this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Prior to the event, held last week in Las Vegas, they announced the launch of Gemini 2 XL, the company’s new long-range 3D camera that “delivers accurate and reliable data in various lighting conditions,” per the release of the news. Additionally, they announced last week a new partnership with Hiwonder, a manufacturer of robots for educational purposes, leading to the development of the JetHexa Hexapod Robot Kit and the JetAuto Education Robot Car.

While the announcements were made separately, there are certainly links between the two announcements, with the Gemini 2 XL being described as a system for robotic systems, along with “numerous AI-based video analytics and interaction systems.” The announcement of the camera unit outlines three key features: RGB-D quality, a minimization of environmental light impact, and lack of need for vision processors. 

According to Orbbec, who also announced new cameras at CES 2023, these new features help for use cases that require gathering data for AI recognition, with the RGB-D quality allowing for detection of small objects and the same quality of work in high-reflectivity environments. They say, “The deeplearning algorithms can generate a complete phase map around small objects and fixtures by overcoming challenges faced by traditional algorithms due to shadow, speckle pattern size, illumination conditions, etc.” 

The company also notes that conventional algorithms generally struggle in less-than-ideal lighting conditions, whether it be low visibility, high reflectivity, direct sunlight, or other conditions. Orbbec says their AI algorithms create a complete phase map output under any of these conditions, with a listed price under $500.

"We are excited to demonstrate the superior capabilities of Gemini 2 XL at this year's Consumer Electronics Show," said David Chen, Co-Founder and Head of Products at Orbbec, in a statement. "As Orbbec's learning library continues to expand, the camera's capabilities will continue to improve, broadening their applicability in robotics and AI-based vision solutions."

JetHexa | Image via Orbbec

A week after announcing their new Gemini 2 XL camera, Orbbec also announced the aforementioned partnership with Hiwonder, whose mission is to enhance STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) education. As part of the partnership, the companies have developed the JetHexa ROS Hexapod Robot Kit and the JetAuto ROS Robot Car, both of which are integrated with Orbecc’s Astra+ 3D camera and powered by NVIDIA Jetson Nano. 

Orbbec lists the following features for both robots:

  • Orbbec's 3D camera technology that offers high resolution and low power depth vision for 3D scanning, mapping, obstacle avoidance, navigation and other functions.
  • USB hub, multi-function expansion board and large capacity Li battery.
  • Android and iOS apps and a wireless controller.
  • Color recognition and tracking, vision line following, target object and tag tracking.
  • Human body and fingertip trajectory recognition.
  • Improved sound source localization using a 6 channel microphone array that supports voice interaction and navigation by voice commands.
  • Group control, formation adjustment and synchronized performances.

"Our partnership with Hiwonder brings 3D vision and AI into the classroom with easy-to-use kits," said Amit Banerjee, Head of Platform and Partnerships at Orbbec, in a statement. "We have a shared goal to make the robotics technology accessible to educators, students and developers for hands-on learning experiences."

One of the big themes of this year’s CES was the growth in momentum around the “industrial metaverse,” and these moves also signal a technology trend which has been brewing for years: Robotics. Obviously robotics are not new, but their capabilities are becoming more practical and more ubiquitous seemingly on a daily basis. Boston Dynamics, for example, was once most famous for making viral videos of their dancing robots. Those videos are still popular, but we’re also seeing products like Spot the Dog perform key tasks on job sites and in other industrial settings. 

One of the keys to this growth is improved 3D perception systems, and between their new camera being specifically connected to robotics in the company’s announcement and as well as their partnership with Hiwonder, it’s clear that Orbbec wants to be in position to take advantage of this continued growth.

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