Game broadcasters (or streamers, if you prefer) often devote a portion of their screen to a picture-in-picture shot of their smiling face as they play and talk to their audience. It's a nice way to let viewers make a more personal connection, but there are some drawbacks. First, it blocks out a chunk of the game screen, and second, if you're going to stream from your bedroom can you at least put away your dirty laundry, rather than leaving it in plain view in the background!?
Now to be fair there are ways around this using green screen technology but most broadcasters just go with the rectangular window.
This week at the Intel Developer Forum, Intel introduced a solution to these problems in the form of Intel RealSense™. There are a lot of applications for RealSense™ but one that caught my eye is a new partnership with Razer. The product doesn't even have a name yet, but Razer's RealSense™ camera will automatically crop out a broadcaster's head and lay it over the stream. It's like rigging a green screen setup, but without the green screen or the complexity. The broadcaster's head blocks less of the screen than the standard rectangle and the rest of the room is hidden. It gives any broadcast a more professional vibe.
Dean Takahashi from Venture Beat got some hands-on time with the technology and this is what he said:
Intel showed a demo of a Twitch livestream of Rocket League running on a PC. I walked up to the display with a Razer camera that uses the RealSense technology. The camera instantly recognized me and captured my face in a video stream. Then it cut out the background and inserted the video of my face into the lower right corner of the screen displaying the excellent vehicle-soccer game. So it was effortless.
Of course this will work in any kind of teleconferencing, not just for game streaming.
Razer also wants to use the camera for VR although they're a little vague on that front, saying in a press release that gamers will be able to enhance their VR experiences "in unprecedented ways." Presumably that means using the camera to do head, hand and body tracking. Remember that last March Razer was talking about using Leap Motion for hand tracking. Whether this new camera supplements Leap or replaces it isn't clear.
But widespread VR adoption is in the future. Streaming is hot now and I think Razer could find some real success with game broadcasters if the camera works as advertised. Unfortunately not only does the product not have a name, it doesn't have a ship date either. Razer just says it is coming soon.