Insights from industry

An Introduction to 3D Sensor Technology

Tal Dagan, VP of Marketing at PrimeSense talks to AZoSensors about 3D Sensor Technology.

Can you provide me with an overview on PrimeSense, Ltd?

PrimeSense is a fabless semiconductor company that has created a breakthrough 3D sensing technology, which gives digital devices a 3D view of the world, enabling them to create synchronized depth images so they can see, understand and interact with their environment in a natural way. Our proven technology is already in over 20 million households worldwide, and is now being used to advance a variety of additional markets and the products that serve them to entirely new levels.

Can you discuss your 3D sensing technology and its relevant market area?

PrimeSense 3D sensing technology gives digital devices the ability to observe a scene in three dimensions. It translates these observations into a synchronized image stream (depth and RGB) — just like humans do. It then takes those synchronized images and translates them into information. PrimeSense 3D sensors are used in a variety of devices that all utilize the power of our technology. Our initial market was Gesture solutions for gaming but we’re now offering much more than just Gesture technology for gaming. We’re bringing 3D sensing to retail for shopping analytics and for interactive signage; to hospitals using our sensors for service robots that provide remote services and interactive screens in operation rooms; for security applications and many more. We don’t have one market to focus on; we truly offer it all.

What are your main challenges ahead for your technology and how do you plan on addressing these challenges?

We are continuously challenged to improve our technology and bring an improved platform offering, improved performance at lower cost and smaller size. In addition, the challenge is not to focus solely on the technology, but rather on the broader ecosystem of platform, software and application providers to bring the solutions to market.

You highlight how PrimeSense have revolutionized the way customers interact with their digital devices by giving these products a gift of sight. Can you explain this further and discuss the solutions you offer to achieve this?

PrimeSense 3D sensors give digital devices the gift of sight, enabling natural Interaction between people and devices, and between devices and their surroundings. Using cutting-edge technology, our sensors are robust, accurate and affordable; they are used in mass-market commercial devices. With more options than ever — mid-range, close range, a peripheral or an embedded sensor — we can support all of our partners’ 3D sensing needs.

We are working in many industries, whether it’s fully immersive motion controlled games in front of your TV; robots that help care for the elderly; digital signage that sees who the customer is and displays content that’s relevant to them; or the ability to affordably convert any size of screen into a touch or almost-touch screen, PrimeSense is radically changing how devices function and what they can do.

A specific example is our 3D sensors in the SAMI robot and iRobot AVA. Both are able to avoid obstacles and identify key points in the environment, including objects and people. Thanks to our sensors, these service robots are able to travel autonomously in different environments as well as interact in a natural way with people and serve them.   

PrimeSense are now focussing on enhancing technology used in hospitals and specifically in operating rooms. This is quite an exciting challenge especially when considering the application of this technology in an operating theatre where precision and accuracy is paramount to ensure the utmost safety of the patient. Can you discuss exactly how you plan on enhancing your technology for its application in this new market?

Our 3D sensing technology is being used in various environments to improve the medical and healthcare industry, including a range of solutions for elderly care. In the era of independent living, ensuring that the elderly are in a secure and monitored environment has become a critical need. PrimeSense Sensors combined with specific middleware enable the automatic monitoring of patients’ health while maintaining complete privacy.

Used both as at-home solutions and within care facilities, our technology can detect:

  • Falls and seizures
  • Patient vital signs on a daily basis or as often as required
  • Signs of an emergency situation
  • Anomalies in daily activity
  • Forgotten critical tasks.

In addition, our sensors are now also being used for gait analysis, providing accurate and earlier indications of potential issues. Thanks to these significant advancements in the monitoring and early detection of potentially life-changing conditions, it creates an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the elderly and afflicted individuals.

For SAMI specifically, by using our 3D sensors and the internet, SAMI will be fully controlled remotely, and could also become a real assistant for doctors and emergency workers to assist SAMI owners instantly from their offices, such as: bringing medicine, making the bed, helping if someone has fallen, anything a human can do.

What will be the challenges for your technology (in relation to the design and development of your products) when considering its application in the healthcare industry?

Each market has its own specific needs, and unique requirements from our depth sensors and solutions. For example, working in healthcare may allow for no or very limited room of error, as opposed to Gaming. One of the ways to achieve these challenges is extensive work and collaboration with key partners from the specific markets to best understand the market needs and nuances and to bring together tailored solutions.

Apart from operating rooms, are there any other divisions of the healthcare industry that you plan on exploring with your technology and how will this help shape your technology?

Other examples of how PrimeSense 3D Sensing technology is working in the medical industry include:

  • iRobot’s Ava robot uses PrimeSense 3D sensing in hospitals to provide remote diagnosis via videoconferencing
  • Automatic health monitoring of elderly or nursing patients in their homes and at care facilities
  • Real time and accurate biofeedback during the rehabilitation process for patients and medical staff
  • Increased hygiene with the use of “touchless” displays for medical equipment of all kinds
  • Detecting the presence of potentially evolving diseases such as Parkinson, Alzheimer by gait analysis.

Can you explain how your technology will offer a real improvement to patient care?

One good example will be service robots that will be able to assist patients doing daily activities at their homes. Naturally, a robot operating in such an environment will be much more capable when it can see its environment as we do.

Surely the surgeons will control the 3D sensing technology? How will the surgeon work with this technology whilst operating on a patient?

They will be able to use the sensing technology by using touch-less equipment during operations, helping them to see exactly what they are doing, and gather information - minus the hassle, while keeping everything sanitary.

Whilst still on the subject of examples of how PrimeSense technology is working in the medical industry, how does this sensing technology work to help detect the presence of potentially evolving diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s?

Already trials have been conducted in universities and with some of our partners, to test how 3D sensing can assist in these areas. It seems that in many cases, while monitoring a person’s behaviour in 3D, it is possible to detect even slight changes in performance that can often indicate an illness or a disease.

What are your future target markets for your technology and how do you see these products evolving?

Currently we see broad demand from many markets and in a very broad range of applications and use cases. Literally hundreds of companies and thousands of developers are working and evaluating the technology and its potential, it is difficult to say today which of these will be most successful, but it is clear that many will reach their goal and change many industries.

In terms of application, demand, and competition, where do you see your products by 2015?

We see our technology playing an important part in many markets and applications. We constantly invest most of our efforts in improving our technology as well as evolving and enlarging our ecosystem of key partners, and maintaining our industry leadership. I believe we will keep on succeeding and maintain our number one position in the market.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views of AZoM.com Limited (T/A) AZoNetwork, the owner and operator of this website. This disclaimer forms part of the Terms and Conditions of use of this website.

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