A company called pmdtechnologies, based in Germany, has shown off its new CamBoard Pico 3D depth sensing motion controller. The company claims the new sensor is both smaller and more accurate than the better known Leap Motion controller, which is due to hit shop shelves on 19th May this year. It is a development of an earlier Camboard Nano reference design, which I hadn’t heard of before, and is smaller and more accurate than that design.pmdtechnologies has created the new reference design of the CamBoard Pico in the hope that it will be picked up by PC hardware manufacturers. With ASUS choosing to incorporate Leap Motion controllers in upcoming high end PCs and laptops, pmdtechnologies product should have a good chance attracting competitors, if it is indeed as capable as it looks in the video.
The info page concerning the CamBoard Pico by pmd claims “Our technology provides you with robust depth data systems in the smallest available space. The efficient method allows precision, even with rapid movements and gestures.” Unlike some other systems the CamBoard Pico can operate well under varied lighting conditions “The depth is measured regardless of the ambient lighting, meaning enhanced quality for you and added value generated by pmd's patented SBI technology (suppression of background illumination)”. Lastly but very importantly the new gesture controller is also said to be “cost effective”.
As you can see from the video and pictures the device is around the same size as an average USB thumb drive. TechCrunch reports that the CamBoard Nano offers more accurate gesture control than the Leap Motion controller as it “works by offering a ‘3D interaction volume,’ made up of a point cloud” unlike Leap’s device which “just identifies points for fingertips to help it determine relative spacial distance”.
As yet all the info on pmd’s website is only concerning the earlier CamBoard Nano, which is less refined than the Pico, so it’s good to have this sneak preview video to give us a taste of the upcoming Pico product. It does look impressive and I am really looking forward to a range of these motion controllers being available with specially designed creative and entertainment software for PCs. Microsoft’s current Kinect hardware is looking more moribund by the day, even with hardware add-ons providing eyeCharm control options.