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A 3D sensor in your smartphone?
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Eric Gregori
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The Microsoft Kinect, based on PrimeSense technology, has been a huge hit selling over 10 million units and setting a world record in consumer sales.   The technology has enabled a whole new type of Human Machine Interfacing (HMI), gesture control.  Manufactures are talking about using gesture control in TV's, computer, and smartphones.

Smartphones ?

If you have seen a Kinect, you are probably asking yourself how that will fit in a smartphone.

The answer is Canesta.   With all the hype around the Kinect, it seems people have forgotten that Microsoft purchased Canesta, a manufacturer of 3D image sensor chips, in 2010. 

 

Take a look at this video, notice how small the Canesta 3D chip sensor is. 

 

You do not need a 3D image sensor for depth perception.   Nature has been perceiving depth for millions of years without a dedicated 3D sensor.  All you need are two 2D sensors a known distance apart and some software (or neurons in the case of biology). 

Last year, sharp announced an industry leading 3D camera module for smartphones (http://sharp-world.com/corporate/news/100512.html). 

"The current 3D camera module developed by Sharp incorporates functions to process the image data output by the left and right cameras, including Color Synchronizing Processing to adjust color and brightness, Timing Synchronizing Processing to synchronize the timing of the video signals, and Optical Axis Control Processing to correct positioning. In addition, Fast Readout Technology rapidly transfers video data from the image sensor, enabling 3D images to be captured in high-resolution HD mode. Further, in developing this camera module, Sharp applied high-density mounting technology nurtured over long years of experience in camera module development to achieve a compact form. Embedding this camera module in mobile devices such as digital cameras, mobile phones, and smartphones will contribute to the development of a wide range of new, innovative communications tools."    http://sharp-world.com/corporate/news/100512.html

Jeff Bier
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Does anyone know what became of the Sharp miniature 3-d sensor mentioned in the above-referenced press release?  I haven't been able to find any other mention of it.

I heard that Texas Instruments general manager Greg Delagi demo'd smartphone gesture recognition at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2011.  I assume that was a single-sensor design.  Does anyone know the specifics?