Intel has revealed a version of its 3D depth camera that is small and thin enough to be fitted into a 6in (15.2cm) smartphone.
The RealSense sensor can be used to recognise hand and head movements and makes it possible to change the focus of photos after they have been taken.
Brian Krzanich, the company chief executive, unveiled the prototype at an event in Shenzhen, China.
Although Krzanich showed off an example of a RealSense-enabled phone, he did not demonstrate it working, which may indicate it is still at an early stage of development.
“The device which was shown on stage at the Intel Developer Forum was a prototype that was created in collaboration with a Chinese firm, whom we are not naming
“The device is meant to show the different types of apps, usage models and form factors that RealSense tech can be integrated into and to encourage innovation,” said a spokeswoman for the company.
The technology is similar to that found in Microsoft’s Kinect motion-and-image sensor, but in a much smaller package.
While the Kinect has fallen out of favour with many Xbox gamers, one industry watcher thought the technology would prove popular in handsets.
Chris Green, of the Davies Murphy Group consultancy, noted that, “We’ve got to the stage where putting ever higher-resolution cameras in phones is no longer as much of a selling point as it used to be.
“So manufacturers need additional features to draw on. Depth perception and light-field technology will interest people and potentially let the next generation of smartphones differentiate themselves from what is already on the market.
“Intel has obviously achieved half of the challenge involved the miniaturisation but what is still unclear is whether it has got the power side of things licked. It’s one thing putting this into a laptop where you have a large battery and access to a mains power source, it’s another to put it into a phone that has to last throughout the day.”Follow Us on Social Media