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Android tablet records and recreates 3D scenes

Sep 20, 2014 — by Eric Brown — 1,048 views

Mantis Vision unveiled an Android-based “Aquila” tablet, based on Mantis’s “MV4D 3D” engine that uses a 3D sensing system to recreate 3D scenes.

So-called 3D tablets, which display 3D video and other content with or without special glasses, never hit it big among consumers. Now Israeli 3D vision technology firm Mantis Vision and manufacturer Flextronics have built a different kind of tablet called the Aquila. It not only displays 3D content, but records, recreates it, and lets you manipulate the image in 3D or integrate it into applications.

Aquila tablet
(click image to enlarge)

Earlier this year, Mantis Vision contributed its MV4D core 3D engine to Google’s Project Tango 3D-mapping tablet, which followed the original Project Tango smartphone. Whereas The Project Tango Android tablet ran on an Nvidia Tegra K1 system-on-chip, the Aquila uses a Qualcomm Snapdragon 801, as well as Qualcomm’s Snapdragon-optimized Vuforia Mobile Vision Platform for augmented reality and 3D sensing.

The Aquila was unveiled at this week’s Qualcomm Uplinq 2014 conference in San Francisco along with other Vuforia-based products including ODG’s R-7 Glasses. This Android-based eyewear computer uses a similar Vuforia SDK for Digital Eyewear technology.

The 8-inch Aquila tablet incorporates the MV4D 3D engine, as well as a MV4D Camera Control SDK and depth sensing components for 3D data acquisition. Vuforia supplies the tablet’s Smart Terrain 3D reconstruction capability, offering immersive augmented reality experiences in shopping and gaming, says Mantis Vision. Smart Terrain creates a geometric reconstruction of the environment, and together with the MV4D technology, enables the Aquila tablet to offer “faster and more accurate reconstruction, resulting in a higher level of immersion for a variety of AR experiences,” says the company.

Aquila 3D sensing system
(click image to enlarge)

The Aquila 3D tablet makes use of the Snapdragon 801’s Image Signal Processor to process and synchronize a 13-megapixel main camera simultaneously with a 720p infra-red camera and projector combination. Together with MV4D and Vuforia, the Aquila can then display high-quality video in real time overlaid with a “dense” depth map for precision terrain and object mapping, says Mantis Vision. The MV4D SDK then enables Android developers to integrate the constructed 3D video, images, and data into their apps.

According to a Gizmodo report, which also said Mantis Vision expects that consumer tablets based on Aquila will ship by the middle of 2015, the Aquila tablet has less sophisticated components than the Project Tango tablet. “Rather than close off possibilities to developers by incorporating a lot of proprietary or specialized tech, Mantis hopes to leave more options open,” writes Gizmodo’s Mario Aguilar.

Indeed, aside from the secondary IR camera and the 3D firmware, the specs are fairly standard for a high-end Android tablet. The Snapdragon 801 has appeared in several high-end Android devices including the Samsung Galaxy S5.

Like the higher-end Snapdragon 805 used in the R-7 Glasses and Galaxy Note 4 phablet that drives the Vuforia-based Samsung Gear VR, the Snapdragon 801 supplies four Krait cores that are roughly equivalent to Cortex-A15 cores. However, it lacks the Snapdragon 805’s more advanced Krait 450 core design, which enables a clock-rate of 2.7GHz compared to the 2.36GHz of the 801’s Krait 400. The 801 also has an Adreno 330 GPU instead of the 805’s Adreno 420, which is claimed to be 40 percent faster.

Aquila hardware specs

The Aquila tablet runs Android 4.4 on the Snapdragon 801, and ships with 2GB of RAM and 64GB of storage — half the totals of the Project Tango tablet. The 8-inch, 1920 x 1200-pixel display has a 10:16 aspect ratio. The tablet also offers 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0. On the front of the tablet is a standard 5-megapixel camera.

The 3D sensing system resides on the rear of the tablet. It integrates a 13-megapixel color camera with 3D texture capabilities, along with a synced IR camera, an IR flash projector, and a white LED flash. The MV4D technology uses the projector to project a proprietary “Structured Light Pattern” upon physical objects and environments. The recordings of these reflections are processed with structured light algorithms “to produce an accurate, detailed depth map of the captured scene,” says Mantis Vision.

Mantis Vision offers other MV4D-enabled OEM products that use a similar process. These include a 3D Pocket Camera and its flagship F5 Series of handheld 3D imagers.

“Because [Aquila] is available to all developers and OEMs, makers will have unbounded access to a brave new 3D content ecosystem,” stated Amihai Loven, CEO, Mantis Vision.

Further information

The Aquila reference tablet is built by Flextronics, but it’s “available to all manufacturers and is expected to be OEM-ready in early 2015,” says the company. The development kit will sell for $915, with discounts available for academics and other researchers. Developers are invited to apply for an MV4D for Aquila developer kit preview program. More information may be found at the Mantis Vision website.

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