Some readers might recall a rumor dating back to March 2016, claiming that Intel might be planning on using its RealSense technology for creating an augmented reality headset. We haven't heard much on the matter since, but interestingly enough, an Intel engineer going by the Twitter handle @ddiakopoulos recently tweeted out a couple of images showing a new Intel product attached to an HTC Vive headset. The tweet and image have since been removed, but there are plenty of details to go by and create a fairly accurate picture of what Intel has been working on for the VR / AR segment.
According to Intel Prototyping Engineer, Dimitri Diakopoulos, the upcoming Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco is likely to be centered on the concept of virtual reality. The engineer tweeted a teaser photo showcasing an HTC Vive attachment, featuring a series of depth-sensing cameras that could technically track the wearer's hand movement, and scan its environment in real time. In other words, the mysterious Intel product might offer functionality similar to Leap Motion's Orion 3D Motion Sensor for VR, which also uses a series of sensors to track hand movement and offer gesture-based controls. Additionally, there's also a possibility that Intel's accessory could be used for AR (Augmented Reality), allowing users to switch to a real-world view without having to remove the headset (the HTC Vive already does this to a certain extent). Ultimately, a depth-perception sensor able to detect objects in real time could also allow for a more immersive virtual reality experience by enlarging the physical playfield or making the HTC Vive room-scale VR feature more dynamic. Intel's system could technically allow the headset to recreate real-life objects within the virtual scenery, as opposed to highlighting objects as obstacles / out of bounds areas.
It's interesting to note that one of Dimitri's tweets and photos was accompanied by the text "Industrial design team nailed it", which suggests that the product seen in the images could be more than just a prototype, and indeed the final product aimed for a public release. We could very well see the mysterious VR accessory at Intel Developer Forum from August 16th to August 18th, but seeing how the tweets have been removed, there's no way to be sure of what Intel might be planning for the VR / AR market in the foreseeable future.