i thing its pretty clear that natal does include a z camera from 3dv or some derivative there of. as for the ms exec statement, i belive they are talking about the software and its origins beeing before the 3dv buy out. in an interview that i think ive
already posted on this thread, the algorithms where in development since way back and they where looking for something to "plug them into" and thats probobly where 3dv came in..
as for pricing, yes TOF cameras are typpically very expensive.. but so was accelerometers before the wiimote
its all about the volume.. consider cpus and gpus, they are really hard things to make [40nm processes, pushing on 32nm] and yet they are available in consumer products..
i do belive microsoft has the real deal here
actually the papers could have been more scientific.. but the videos are cool also, it seems like the 3dv zcam had a 1.3 mega pixel resolution.. it would seem
likely that natal will have something similar
The actual 3D camera concept is pretty simple, if you look at what each pixel does. It is only slightly more complex than what a typical, cheap CCD does in a consumer camera. The biggest reason why it has been so expensive up to now is that our technology
just wasn't fast enough to perform the shutter speeds required to make this work (the technical description I saw showed the actual "shutter" as a multiplexing electronic switch, one for each pixel). Once we have the required speed, it becomes much more viable
to mass produce this, resulting in much lower cost.
That is why I don't believe it is so far fetched that something like this can end up costing $200. Once again, not much more than a set of Guiter Hero controls, and we all know what a "failure" that turmed out to be
EDIT: This is how I understand it to work:
Each pixel in the 3D camera CCD consists of one light detector, and two capacitors (as opposed to one detector and one capacitor for a typical CCD). Initially, both capacitors start out discharged. An IR light pulse is sent out. The first capacitor it connected
to the light detector. Exactly halfway through the cycle, the light detector is switch over to the second capacitor. At the end of the cycle, the difference between the voltage of the 1st and 2nd capacitor describes the distance at that pixel. Due to the
fact that the difference between the two capacitor is used as the actual value to process, the level of ambient light is cancelled out since it will cause each of the two capacitors to have the same value. Only the dynamic light is having an effect on the
final output. If the object is close, both capacitors will have almost the same voltage. The further the object, the longer the first capacitor will be without the light from the pulse, resulting in it having a lower voltage at the end of the cycle.
Yes this is an oversimplification, but this is how I understand the basic functionalty. Not that much more complex than the current mass-produced CCDs we find in cheap cameras. The biggest challange seems to be to get the high speed of switching required
to make it work. Since they have now reached that speed, it now becomes possible to mass-produce it much more cheaply.