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Two-plus days after issuing a statement saying it is “winding down our RealSense business,” Intel issued another update that may or may not provide a sense of relief for its customers in the robotics industry.
The latest statement was first issued by Anders Grunnet-Jepsen, CTO of the Intel RealSense Group, but was shared by several others afterwards. Below is a statement he posted on LinkedIN, which states the RealSense business unit is winding down and that the LiDAR, Facial Authentication and Tracking product lines will reach end of life this month. However, according to Grunnet-Jepsen, most of the stereo products will “continue.”
Shortly before Grunnet-Jepsen posted that statement, we received the same information from another RealSense employee, who wished to remain anonymous. It shared the same product information, but offered a sense of frustration due to communication breakdowns inside Intel:
“The official message is still that Intel has decided to wind down the RealSense business. I honestly don’t know what that means. [End-of-life] announcements for LiDAR and Face Authentication products by the end of the month. There will be a 6 month EOL and last time buy. Select stereo products will continue to be provided. D410, 415, 430, 450, modules and D415, 435, 435i integrated product lines will remain. D455 will be discontinued.”
This person added, “I don’t know how you wind down the RealSense business while still selling RealSense stereo products. This is very frustrating for us.”
Another Intel source said, “our team was not told ahead of time.”
These latest statements are very different from what Intel officially sent out on Wednesday. We offered Grunnet-Jepsen the opportunity to come on The Robot Report Podcast or to write an article to set the record straight. He declined, for now.
It seems this story isn’t over. To me, a lot remains unclear. The comment about “moving forward with a focus on supporting and enabling the autonomous mobile robot markets, with future products expected to be specifically tailored to those applications” is especially interesting. What about companies building robots that aren’t AMRs? A lot of them use RealSense stereo cameras. Will there be future products for them, too?
In an exclusive interview with CRN, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said he decided to wind down the RealSense division because it did not fit in with the company’s six core businesses. “Hey, there’s some good assets that we can harvest, but it doesn’t fit one of those six business units that I’ve laid out,” he said.
While the future remains unclear, Intel RealSense’s week has certainly reminded plenty of folks about what happened with Microsoft Kinect and Project Tango. If you want to hear more about what’s going on with RealSense, as Grunnet-Jepsen said, reach out to your local rep.