Orbbec to Build Time-of-Flight 3D Cameras on Microsoft Azure Depth Platform

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Orbbec 3D today said it is working with Microsoft Corp. to develop new products and technologies in the fast-growing 3D imaging category. The partners said they will combine Microsoft’s 3D sensor technology and Orbbec’s camera design know-how, manufacturing capabilities, and unique embedded computing technology.

Founded in 2013 in Shenzhen, China, Orbbec said its Astra 3D cameras are designed to be affordable and that Orbbec Persee is “the world’s first camera-computer.” The Troy, Mich.-based company said developers of robotics, artificial intelligence, and computer vision will be able to connecting its new sensor to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform for logisticsretailhealthcare, and fitness applications.

Orbbec to launch ToF cameras

Orbbec announced its plan at CES 2021 to introduce its new time-of-flight (ToF) camera product line, supporting multiple ToF sensors, on-board depth computing, six-axis IMU (inertial measurement unit) motion tracking, and multi-camera synchronization.

ToF is a technology for capturing the exact position and shape of objects and scenes, said Orbbec. Similar in principle of how ultrasound uses sound waves to create an image, ToF uses light to measure shapes, movement, and position of static or moving objects with pinpoint accuracy and at greater distances than previously available in the market.

Orbbec said it is partnering with Microsoft to develop a new series of high-performance 3D cameras that can run advanced depth vision algorithms using onboard computing to convert raw data into precise depth images. They will securely connect to Azure and use device management, data streaming, and AI analytics capabilities, according to the company.

The camera is designed for advanced human/machine interfaces, robotics, 3D scanning, and surveillance uses as well as gaming and other consumer applications. Orbbec added that it expects to debut its first camera in early 2022.

Cameras include embedded computing

Unlike many other ToF cameras, Orbbec said embedded computing capabilities enable its ToF cameras to produce high-quality depth data without a PC or other external computing capability. This provides users significantly greater design and application flexibility, it claimed.

“Orbbec’s long experience in manufacturing high-performance 3D cameras makes them a strong strategic partner for developing products based on Microsoft ToF technology and Azure,” said Cyrus Bamji, Microsoft Partner hardware architect. “This collaboration will accelerate the availability of ToF sensor cameras with advanced, embedded computing for developers and solution providers worldwide.”

“Microsoft is a world leader in high-resolution ToF sensor technology and cloud-based service,” stated David Chen, co-founder and director of engineering at Orbbec. “Its knowledge and intellectual property allow Orbbec to offer a full range of ToF cameras for the widest possible spectrum of uses.”

“Orbbec is excited to join the Azure Depth Platform Program to jointly develop solutions that will enhance the capabilities of both Orbbec and Microsoft’s customer and partner ecosystems,” he added.

As part of the development process, Orbbec will engage its customers for early adoption and proofs of concept for the new ToF camera using Azure 3D.

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