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Intel launches $250 kit to build robots with Kinect-like vision

Intel’s depth-reading RealSense cameras can let you log into your computer thanks to Windows Hello. That’s pretty cool, but Intel wants to encourage makers to let their imaginations run wild.

To help them out, Intel has launched a RealSense robotics development kit. It’s not a robot-in-a-box sort of thing: they’re supplying the brains and the eyes.

At first glance the included development board might look like a Raspberry Pi, but it’s actually an Intel product called the Up Board. The board’s physical dimensions are nearly identical, but it’s powered by a quad-core Cherry Trail Atom x5-Z8350 processor and it features 4GB of RAM and 32GB of integrated eMMC storage.

It’s also well equipped when it comes to ports. There are four USB 2.0 ports and two additional header connections, a single USB 3.0 port, Ethernet, and an HDMI output. It’s a nice little board, but the star of the show is the RealSense R200 camera. It can record full color video at 1080p resolution and 30fps. Infrared and depth is processed at a more humble 640 x 480 resolution, but also at a smoother 60fps.

On their specs page, Intel lists Ubuntu as the lone supported operating system, but since this is a standard 64-bit Atom CPU you should be able to run just about any compatible OS on their board: Windows, Android, another Linux distro… whatever your preference might be.

Intel has priced the RealSense robotics kit at $249.99. If all you’re interested in is the Up Board, you can buy that on its own for as little as $89. That’s for a board with 1GB of RAM and 16GB of eMMC, and you can double up (2GB/32GB) for an extra $20.

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