Once upon a time, Intel was so big and so successful that it could afford to venture into areas and businesses that were only remotely related to its core silicon business. That included, for a time, wearables as well as computer vision hardware like cameras and LiDARs. Intel is still big, but its dominance is continually challenged on almost all fronts. Refocusing on its strengths, Intel has chosen to also refocus its resources away from failing businesses, like its years-old RealSense division that produced rather interesting products and demos around computer vision.
Computer vision has become a core part of today’s computing experience that we don’t even realize that it’s there. From AR stickers to camera app’s scene detection to face recognition, computer vision works silently in the background while AI and machine learning take most of the limelight. It is still there, of course, and there’s still a profit to be made around it, just not for Intel.
Intel’s RealSense business wasn’t just about processors and software. The company also sold actual products, like cameras, sensors, and modules to enable experiences around computer vision, like face recognition or augmented reality apps. Notable examples include the a Project Tango smartphone and a Project Alloy standalone VR headset.
While Intel did have customers for these products, it seems that those have dwindled in the past years and so have the profits. It is no surprise to those involved with RealSense that the company has decided to finally wind it down, especially after its head executive, Sagi Ben Moshe, announced his departure. It was only a matter of time, and that time has finally come.
Intel promises to still honor current customer commitments, of course, and its computer vision technology and knowledge will eventually find their way into its core chip business. The tech giant has recently been making efforts to reclaim its territory in the PC and server businesses, and shedding off some excess baggage is a welcome move for some partners and market watchers.