This week Intel has announced that it will acquire computer vision firm Movidius in order to prepare its RealSense technology “for the next wave of computing”. For readers who may be unfamiliar with the brand, Movidius is a computer vision chipmaker whose technologies have powered Google’s first generation of Tango devices. The company specializes in building computer vision chips that allow devices to detect, scan, and even map their environment and respond to their surroundings.
For a short history lesson, Google’s Tango smartphones and tablets are powered by Android and use a wide range of cameras and sensors in order to map their surroundings in real-time. Tango devices can use Intel’s RealSense sensor array and Intel’s own compute cores, or can rely on different computer hardware such as the Movidius Myriad 1 vision processor. Moving on to the topic at hand, Intel is now in the process of acquiring Movidius, and combined with Intel’s existing assets the company aims to use Movidius technologies in order to push RealSense technology to the next level. Intel’s RealSense depth-sensing cameras allows devices to “see” the surrounding world in three dimensions, and in order to utilize this technology to its full potential, Intel continued to acquire several other companies working on machine learning, deep learning, and cognitive computing. Following the acquisition of Movidius, “Intel gains low-power, high-performance SoC platforms for acceleration computer vision applications”, and as far as practical applications go, Intel claims that Movidius has the massive potential to accelerate their involvement in “new and emerging technologies”. RealSense sensors combined with Movidius compute vision chips allows Intel to push into new market areas including augmented, virtual, and merged reality (AR / VR / MR), and create a wide range of smart products such as drones, robots, digital security cameras and more.
Intel’s press release further states that computer vision technology “will trigger a Cambrian explosion of compute”, and that RealSense together with Intel’s full suite of perceptual computing technologies and Movidius’ chips will push Intel “at the forefront of this new wave of computing”. In any case, it’s interesting to note that according to an Intel spokesperson quoted by The Verge, all 180 Movidius employees will become part of Intel’s Perceptual Computing group.