Mother Necessity: Meet RealSense

When I was a kid, I loved School House Rock. To this day, they are only reason I know what the function of a conjunction is. But one of them was especially applicable to me today: 
 
Yes, it's a little dated, but the essence of the message remains true to this day. I think the 2005 movie "Robots" perhaps summed it up best: See a need; fill a need.
 
So, this is exactly what we hope will happen this year with the new Intel® RealSense™ Technology. When we look at the modern world, there are probably plenty of places where the ability for computers to support more natural interactions with people or be able to absorb objects or environments more seamlessly would be useful. For anyone not already familiar with RealSense, here is a good introduction. In essence, it is the combination of a "normal" webcam with an IR (infrared) sensor that simultaneous collects depth information, similar to how LIDAR works. So, in the near future (should start this holiday season), when you sit in front of a RealSense-enabled system, the webcam will "see" the exact RGB (Red/Green/Blue or the way a computer understands color) of the very tip of your nose, as well has how far your nose is from your eyes. Theoretically, it would have been a rather simple process to create a RealSense-based lie detector for Pinocchio, based on the aforementioned depth tracking.  
 
 
But, while Pinocchio is an imaginary character, the possibilities of RealSense are, in contrast, very real, all pun intended. However, we at Intel strongly believe that, while we could certainly come up with some ideas, we know that some of the best ideas come from "fresh eyes," so to speak. And, as such, this is the main purpose behind the Intel® RealSense™ App Challenge 2014. We want to get people from all over the world (see the list of eligible countries here) to get excited about making apps and games for this extremely nascent market. And by "nascent" I mean, "just beginning" not "will never be." This is a VERY important distinction because, as we've noted in a recent webinar, at 7 major OEMs have announced their intentions to release RealSense-enabled products:
 
So, hopefully by the end of 2014, and obviously into 2015, there will be millions of systems shipping was RealSense technology in them. This is, effectively, very similar to the initial beginning of a smartphone era, except instead of it be a growing market, it is actually a replacement market. Where the hundreds of millions of PCs shipping every year will start to shift to being hundreds of millions of RealSense-enabled systems over the foreseeable future. So for bidding developers that feel they didn't get into the smartphone market as early as they should, here is a wonderful second chance. Plus, thanks to our challenge, there's a real shot at earning some real money before the market even starts.
 
But before I get ahead of myself, let me first share the key dates:
  • July 28, 2014 → Phase 1 ( ideation ) starts
  • October 1, 2014 → Phase 1 ( ideation ) stops
  • November 14, 2014 → Phase 2 ( development ) starts
  • December 19, 2014 → Phase 2 ( development ) "early submission" deadline
  • January 20, 2015 → Phase 2 ( development ) regular deadline

Now, some of you may be wondering what you need to do for each step. Phase 2 should be fairly obvious: you have to actually make the app. But, if you make it into phase 2, you'll get a RealSense camera to use, as well as plenty of other assistance. However, first you have to get through Phase 1! Fortunately, it is not that hard. Other than the fairly obvious things, like filing out a form with your name, email, location, etc.; the big thing you have to do is come up with an idea, and write it down. You can enter just text, or you can include a picture or a PDF or whatever you thing will help you to explain your idea. If you can write an email, you have the skills to enter phase 1 of the challenge! And that idea can be anything. In a previous blog, i put out several ideas, but those are just supposed to help you get your creative juices flowing. Obviously I can't enter the contest, so if you want to modify the ideas slightly and go to town, be my guest!
 
Plus, we've got at least 2 webinars coming up to SPECIFICALLY help you with the ideation par of the contest:
  1. August 13, 2014 – 10AM PDT:  It’s Coming: Your Apps Will See and Hear. Learn What to Expect
  2. August 20, 2014 – 10AM PDT:  Enabling a More Natural Future For Your Application User Interfaces

OK, so some of you may be thinking "this is great and all, but what's in it for me?" (Besides being one of the first developers in this greenfield market) Fair enough question, but luckily, the answer is fairly simple: MONEY, and lots of it in my opinion. Here's how the prizes will break down:
  • Phase 1 finalists will "win" getting into Phase 2, including being sent a RealSense camera to support your development
  • 50 folks will get $1,000 if they get their App in before the early submission deadline (December 19, 2014) and they are rated well by the judges (10 for each of the 5 categories)
  • 10 folks will get $10,000 for 2nd place (2 for each of the 5 categories)
  • 5 folks will get $25,000 for 1st place (1 for each of the 5 categories)
  • 1 of the 1st pace winners will win the Grand Prize and get an additional $25,000

So, breaking that all down, 1 lucky winner could win $51,000, if he or she got the app in before the early submission deadline ($50,000 otherwise). In addition of course, there is the notoriety of being one of the first major apps in this brand new market. One of the most consistent things we hear from developers is it that they don't have trouble making apps, but rather that they have trouble getting her apps noticed already flooded market. In this case the RealSense market is anything but flooded. Can you imagine how wonderful it would have been to be one of the first apps in the budding smartphone market? That is the similar opportunity before developers looking to get into a RealSense.
 
Now, all of this said, please note that this blog entry is just a simplified overview of the challenge, and in no way, shape, or form should be taken as a replacement for the full terms and conditions, which you should read if you want to get into the challenge. But I do hope it helps you get the "jist" of the challenge. As an added bonus, if you're thinking about entering, but have never entered a challenge before, here is a Q&A we pulled together recently with previous challenges winners to get their insights on some of the best "tricks of the trade" for winning a challenge: 
 
And with that, I'll wrap up. Let me know what you think of the Challenge in the comments below or on Twitter: @CaptGeek! But be careful not to write your great RealSense ideas in the Comments! Save those for the Challenge so you may win! Good Luck to all those that enter!!
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