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Intel RealSense, which made low-cost, plug-and-play cameras and sensors for robots, is being shut down. CRN was first to report this news, which Intel has since confirmed with The Robot Report. Intel said it wants to focus on its core chipmaking business.
“We are winding down our RealSense business and transitioning our computer vision talent, technology and products to focus on advancing innovative technologies that better support our core businesses and IDM 2.0 strategy,” an Intel spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CRN. “We will continue to meet our commitments to our current customers and are working with our employees and customers to ensure a smooth transition.”
When asked to clarify what the future holds for the RealSense products, an Intel spokesperson told The Robot Report, “this is all the info we have to disclose right now.”
(Update at 8:54 PM Eastern on August 19, 2021:) An Intel RealSense employee, who wished to remain anonymous, just emailed the following. “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.”
(Update at 9:20 PM Eastern on August 19, 2021:) Anders Grunnet-Jepsen, CTO of RealSense Group, just posted this message to LinkedIn:
The Intel RealSense portfolio consists of depth cameras, LiDAR sensors, an open-source SDK and more. Some of the capabilities relevant to robotics companies include collision avoidance, object recognition, volumetric measurement and SLAM tracking. Intel RealSense worked with robotics companies such as Aethon, Brain Corp, Double Robotics, RightHand Robotics, Simbe and more. Aerial drone companies also use Intel RealSense.
Kent Tibbils is vice president of marketing at ASI, a distributor that sells RealSense products. He told CRN that the products didn’t sell well. “There were only a few that were buying multiple units, like 10 to 40 at a time,” he said. “It was definitely very nichey and very specialized for the general channel. It wasn’t a huge product.”
This news is surprising, but two weeks ago Sagi Ben Moshe, head of RealSense and GM of Intel’s Emerging Growth and Incubation group, said he was leaving the company. After 10 years at Intel, he wanted to start the next chapter of his career.
Intel RealSense was founded in 2015. Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger recently said he wants Intel to reclaim the chipmaking crown. RealSense could be a potential distraction to achieving that goal.
Again, Intel said it would meet its commitments for current customers. But the question going forward is what company will fill the void left if the RealSense solutions disappear altogether? Tangram Vision, a San Francisco-based startup specializing in sensor integration and optimization for robots, recently compiled this 2021 perception sensor industry map. It offers a look at some alternatives to Intel RealSense.