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Camera

New Depth-Sensing Cameras for Matterport?4495

WGAN Forum Founder DanSmigrod private msg quote post Address this user
Hi All,

✓ The Verge (26 April 2017) Asus' new Xtion 2 depth-sensing camera isn't a huge upgrade

For context about why this news story 'matters' ... please see this Forum discussion from nine months ago:

New Matterport Camera to be Announced?

Below are portions of that Forum discussion posted by @Tosolini

Based on The Verge article and the insight from @Tosolini ... I could imagine that the Matterport Camera will soon get a refresh (and without any Matterport announcement). The Matterport Camera serial number will begin with a new letter and that will signal that something is different about this batch of Matterport camera.

@Tosolini ... based on this news article, additional insight?

Thanks,

Dan

---

Just sharing some thoughts based on personal observations. The MP camera is built on PrimeSense depth sensors. PrimeSense has been acquired by Apple and I'm not sure how long they will keep selling their sensors to OEMs. In fact, you can't buy them anymore as a consumer.

This puts MP in a tricky situation. If they run out of sensors, they need to find an alternative, and there are a few out there (https://stimulant.com/depth-sensor-shootout-2/). Building hardware is expensive, risky and takes time. So if you do it, you want it to last for a few years, which means that using smaller and higher res sensors is the way to go.

MP already proved that their software can support Project Tango + Intel RealSense sensors (https://matterport.com/matterport-and-google-atap-project-tango/) which positions MP as potentially an hardware independent service provider. However, RealSense hasn't caught up fast enough with OEMs, and these delays are exposing MP to potential competitors, like the Iris VR that was briefly introduced a few months back (thanks @garysnyder for spotting it - http://forum.we-get-around.com/topic/1940/disruptive-technology/).

So, here is the dilemma for MP. Do you update the camera with new and better sensors (which you need to do if PrimeSense stops supplying OEMs), or you wait for the market to be flooded with Project Tango devices and make money with subscriptions?

Not an easy choice when you have investors knocking at your door and hungry competitors pre-announcing alternatives. I personally think MP has still enough time advantage over anybody else, so they will be fine for the time being, which means, we may not see new hardware until there is a strong business reason for doing it.

---

Hard to predict what MP will do in the future. I think refining the software ecosystem is their best bet, as regardless of the input (phones, camera PRO, etc.) it's not something you can replicate quickly. That's valuable Intellectual Property that will last for a long time.

As per a brand new Camera Pro, who knows? It seems a lot of extra work that is not yet necessary. You can probably do incremental internal updates to the existing form factor without the need to announce it and create drama with your customer base (e.g. should I wait to buy the camera? Can I exchange my camera with the new one? etc. etc.). If there are minor internal updates, I don't think we'll be informed about them.

---

If you read Intel's latest announcement at its Developer Conference, you can imagine how sometimes in the future, you'll be able to miniaturize a MP camera down to the size of a Ricoh Theta.

Intel's Project Euclid is a RealSense module for robots
http://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2016/8/16/12504678/intel-project-euclid-robots-realsense-module-tiny-computer
Post 1 IP   flag post
Tosolini
Productions
Tosolini private msg quote post Address this user
Looks like the specs of the new Asus depth camera are no better than the current sensor used by MP. There is not enough justification to embrace this new technology.

I'm no hardware engineer, but it seems that the MP camera is designed to be robust and probably with size specs to accommodate different sensors of similar dimensions of the current one, without changing its specs too much (check out the article Looking inside the Matterport Camera by @360Verbeelding).

As @dansmigrod suggests, silently upgrading the inside without changing much of the look, will be a smart business decision and will avoid customer dramas.

Also, check out this Depth sensor shootout by an agency called Stimulant. It shows that there is limited choice out there of HD sensors, and lots of software has to be written to support some of the most obscure high end devices.

Which makes me think that MP might prioritize platform updates and third party hardware support rather than releasing a brand new camera. I could be totally wrong, but these are my personal observations based on business tech common sense.
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WGAN Forum Founder DanSmigrod private msg quote post Address this user
@Tosolini

Thank you (always) for your insight and perspective.

While the specs are disappointing, will Matterport run out of its existing inventory and have to make the switch regardless?

Dan
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Tosolini
Productions
Tosolini private msg quote post Address this user
@dansmigrod If they run out of inventory, I hope it's because they are more successful than they forecasted. Which is a good problem to have.

Unless... unless Apple has been still supplying sensors to OEMs, while we consumers, just can't buy them anymore.

This could be a plausible scenario, as a company has still to make money somehow after an acquisition. Apple hasn't released any sensor based products, so how can a $360M acquisition sustain itself over these years? Maybe, by keeping selling its products, just not to everybody.
Post 4 IP   flag post
WGAN Forum Founder DanSmigrod private msg quote post Address this user
@Tosolini

Great point about OEMs like Matterport potentially still able to buy ...

That said, I could imagine that they MUST support at least one other sensor or be at risk of the entire business imploding if they do not have access to this super-critical part.

Dan
Post 5 IP   flag post
WGAN Forum Founder DanSmigrod private msg quote post Address this user
@Tosolini

Seems like the 2nd generation of ASUS is a step up in imagine quality.

Xtion Camera Resolution
1280 x 1024

Xtion2 Camera Resolution
5 MP (2592 x 1944)

PrimeSense 1.09 (Matterport)
1280 x 1024

Based on these specs, seems like the Xtion2 image resolution is higher?

Dan
Post 6 IP   flag post
Tosolini
Productions
Tosolini private msg quote post Address this user
@dansmigrod You are right, the RGB camera seems higher res than before. So the 360 should look better indeed.
Post 7 IP   flag post
WGAN Forum Founder DanSmigrod private msg quote post Address this user
@Tosolini

Google Street View Summit would be a perfect time for Matterport to announce the new higher resolution for publishing to Google Street View.

I noticed that Matterport removed their $$$$ Off Promo from the front page of their website, but maintained the promotional space.

I could imagine that placeholder promo space could be replaced with something that calls attention to the new sensor – or New! Publish to Google Street View.

That said, they could also decide to quietly upgrade with simply a difference in the serial number starting with a new letter.

Dan
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