By Craig Thompson February 25, 2014
The successes of 3D gaming systems, like the popular Kinect by Microsoft, have shown the market viability of 3D sensing technology. However, just like any disruptive technology, the first application to which it is applied, gesture recognition, is just that: only the first application. There are still many other possible uses of 3D sensing technology unthought-of that can completely redefine industries and create tremendous market opportunity.
Consider the evolution of the digital camera. Remember learning for the first time that a camera was introduced into a mobile device? It certainly hasn’t taken long for the camera to become as much a part of what we consider a mobile phone as a touchscreen. In addition, the combination of camera and phone has enabled completely new use cases beyond what was ever possible with a device that was just a camera. For example, today you can SMS (text message) an HD image to your spouse confirming that you’re buying the right item or use the phone’s camera and GPS coordinates to give you a quick visual indication of all the restaurants in your immediate area and their Yelp ratings. The truth is today, a phone without a camera simply isn’t a phone.
By adding the third dimension to systems, 3D sensing provides a foundation of supplemental technology that will extend the capabilities of mobile devices well past their current limitations. The ability to sense where the user or an object is in relation to the mobile device, to capture depth, dimension, and space, enables a whole new range of applications and ways to interact with one’s phone or tablet, just the way the digital camera has revolutionized the way we communicate, share information and navigate our world.
The challenge, like any disruptive technology, is that while 3D sensing is still emerging, it is too early to tell exactly how it is going to change our world. In addition, 3D sensing technology continues to evolve as well. Sensing technology using more sophisticated laser-imaging systems, such as those using our vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) is now available. These new 3D sensing systems are more accurate, smaller, lower-power, and less susceptible to errors than the first generation based on LEDs and edge emitting lasers.
What is a VCSEL?
The market is already beginning to embrace 3D sensing technology across industries. Companies who embrace 3D sensing early will likely become the leaders that define the future of this technology.
I am interested in any comments or questions you may have regarding this topic.
Check back soon for my next post “Technology Is No Longer An Island”.