Intel Ships New RealSense Cameras Is This The Kinect Replacement We Have Been Looking For?
Written by Harry Fairhead   
Friday, 26 January 2018

With Microsoft stopping the production of the Kinect, the Intel RealSense family of cameras seems like the obvious replacement. But there are problems - can we trust Intel to keep the hardware in production?


The Intel RealSense camera has been around in various guises for quite a while, but Intel is now shipping two new models in the range - the D415 and the D435.

Both cameras feature:

  • A vision processor that supports up to 5 MIPI Camera Serial Interface 2 lanes to compute real-time depth images and accelerate output
  • New and advanced stereo depth algorithm for accurate depth perception and long range.
  • A set of image sensors that enable capturing of disparity between images up to 1280 x 720 resolution 30 fps
  • Support for the new cross-platform and open-source Intel® RealSense SDK 2.0
  • Dedicated color image signal processor for image adjustments and scaling color data
  • Active infrared projector to illuminate objects to enhance the depth data

The main differences between the two models is that that D415 works from 0.16 to 10m and has a field of view6 9.4° x 42.5° x 77° (+/- 3°) the more expensive D435 works from 0.11 to 10m and has a wider field of view 91.2 x 65.5 x 100.6 (+/- 3°). The D415 costs $149 and the D435 costs $179.

The RealSense D400 module uses structured light rather than time of flight, which makes it more like the first Kinect model than the later one.  

You can see the new cameras in a fairly uniformative promo:



Both cameras work with the RealSense SDK 2.0 – which is now available as a cross-platform, open source SDK on GitHub. It works with:

  • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Linux Kernel 4.4, 4.8 and 4.10)
  • Windows 10 (Build 15063)
  • Windows 8.1
  • Mac OS* (High Sierra 10.13.2)

 So can you trust Intel and use the RealSense camera?

The first problem is that this is being marketed as an OEM component. You can order it from Intel or a small number of component suppliers. The bad news is that, as with earlier models, Intel just doesn't seem to order enough and they are already out of stock. Perhaps this is the Kinect effect with everyone trying to upgrade but it is more likely just Intel not ordering very many. I'd have more confidence if the supply of cameras was less problematic and if they were available not just from component suppliers but at least some PC outlets.

The problem is that Intel has never had to market anything in its existence - the world has always beaten a path to its door to buy whatever the next x86 chip is. This lack of marketing resulted in the  dropping of the Edison, Joule and other IoT devices. Intel simply doesn't get the idea of the "maker" community and supplying the information and devices that are necessary to make something a sucess.

To give you some idea of the situation, I started a book on the Kinect and dropped it after completing eight chapters because Microsoft was moving away from .NET and WPF. I only reached Chapter 2 of a similar book on the RealSense camera before losing faith in the future. Am I thinking of restarting the book?  Unlikely at the moment...


More Information

Intel Delivers Best-in-Class Depth Sensing for Makers, Educators and Developers with Intel RealSense D400 Depth Camera Series

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Getting Started With RealSense In C#

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Intel Euclid - New Horizons For RealSense

Intel RealSense - What Can YOU Do With It?

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Last Updated ( Friday, 26 January 2018 )