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Occipital’s Structure Core is an impressive standalone 3D sensor

Back in 2013, Occipital made waves with a 3D mapping sensor for the iPad.

Flash forward five years and Occipital is back with a new 3D sensor — this one a standalone product. The Structure Core is packed with all the tech it needs to map an environment with a high level of accuracy. Even better, it’s still very compact and can fit in the palm of your hand.

Don’t just the Structure Core by its size.

The hardware onboard includes two main cameras: a 160-degree Field of View or an 85-degree Field of View RGB camera. The first allows for more detailed tracking, while the second enables color imagery. Which one you use for any particular task comes down to use case.

Two infrared cameras will help the main cameras in a variety of lighting conditions while also collecting accurate depth data. Occipital built a special laser projector that, while is small in size, leads to greater range than the one in the original Structure Sensor.

The Structure Core main camera has a large field of view.
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The Structure Core main camera has a large field of view.

All of this works with an onboard six-axis IMU (inertial measurement unit), which makes sure all the sensors are in sync. The Structure Core can transfer data in real-time through a USB Type-C connection. 

Outside
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Outside

Inside
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Inside

The Structure Core also works with more platforms, four in total: Windows, Linux, Android, and macOS. iOS is missing from the list, so iPad owners are currently out of luck, but in that case the original Structure Sensor works fine. 

This sensor is less for consumers and more developers and other tech creators. Occipital says Robotics company Misty is using a Structure Core in the head of one of its robots for room mapping and navigational path decision-making.

Occipital's Adam Rodnitzky and Vikas Reddy with the Structure Core and Misty Robot head.
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Occipital’s Adam Rodnitzky and Vikas Reddy with the Structure Core and Misty Robot head.

Image: Jake Krol/mashable

I got a chance to try out the Structure Core at Mashable’s offices, and the results were impressive. In real time, it was able to map out a long couch, two chairs, and a table. It also predicts the best path to get through an area.

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Occipital will be doing three waves of Structure Core launches. It will be available for everyone at just $399 in March of 2019, but if you want it earlier, it will cost $599 and you’ll get it before year end, or you can pay $499 to get it in January. Occipital will offer the Structure Core inside a metal enclosure or as a barebones part (so companies can quickly deploy it in products). 

All in all, it’s not so much what the Structure Core can do out of the box, but what the future software will enable it to do. Occipital has put in the effort on the hardware side, and it shows in this sophisticated, fully standalone 3D depth sensor. It could be the missing link for many future technological developments, and I’m eager to see where it takes us.

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