Razer’s RealSense-based Webcam Turns Gamers into Twitch Stars

Intel has been shipping its RealSense SDK and camera to developers since last year and a handful of laptops and AIO PCs already come with it installed. However, Razer is the first to sell a RealSense webcam peripheral to users. Though it employs the same RealSense F200 camera as Intel’s developer kit, the Razer has a sleek design with a dial that adjusts the lens position. In a brief hands-on, we found it very easy to change the camera angle with a light swivel.

The features touted by Razer in its upcoming camera include 3D scanning and motion and gesture recognition. Those capabilities will make it easier to add real-world objects and people into virtual spaces like games, Razer says.

But having seen the camera in action on the show floor at Intel’s Developer Forum, I think the real show-stopper will be the camera’s live-streaming capabilities. Razer’s camera automatically strips out your background, depositing your face neatly onto whatever game you’re playing so that anyone watching your stream sees you reacting to gameplay without the clutter of whatever’s behind you.

On a bustling IDF show floor, my colleague Avram Piltch popped up in a game, but none of the people standing behind him did. Even though this camera isn’t shipping yet, that feature already looks primed for its close-up.

It’s easy to understand why game broadcasting is front-and-center among the features Razer has built into this webcam. By the end of 2014, game-streaming service Twitch said that it was averaging 100 million viewers and 1.5 million broadcasters a month. But there are uses for that automatic background removal outside of game streaming: Imagine being able to jump onto a video conference without having to fret about whether the background behind you is too cluttered or distracting.

We’ll keep an eye out for the RealSense-powered Razer webcam, including its price tag and name, as we get closer to 2016.