When Apple posted a job listing Tuesday for a “Computer Vision specialist,” the tech-obsessed echo chamber began speculating which Apple product line would be employing this person’s expertise. Most intriguingly, the job posting made frequent reference to 3-D: “3-D geometry,” “3-D reconstruction” and “cameras and surfaces in a 3-D environment.”
So what exactly could Apple have up its sleeve? What is “computer vision” and how does it relate to 3-D?
The short answer: Apple could be delving into applications as familiar as simple 3-D video capture, to as arcane as real-time environment capture for an augmented-reality system.
“Computer vision is about enabling the computer or mobile device to make sense of a 3-D image the way humans do,” Forrester analyst Frank Gillett told Wired. “For this job application, Apple appears to be looking for someone who could help them think about how stereo cameras could look at a scene, and figure out how to do something useful for its owner.”
Gillett’s explanation suggests a much grander 3-D application than what we see in today’s mobile device. Currently, 3-D in the mobile space is defined by crappy stereoscopic cameras, and glasses-free 3-D displays with incredibly subtle — and sometimes imperceptible — 3-D spatial effects. Android smartphone manufacturers have shown off 3-D image- and video-capture in the LG Optimus 3-D Max and HTC EVO 3-D, but consumers haven’t warmed up to these simple implementations.
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