First USB 3.0 HD webcam at IDF

First USB 3.0 HD webcam at IDF

The impressively tiny camera from Point Grey uses a USB 3.0 bus to transfer uncompressed 1080p video to the host.

If you've been wondering what wonderful devices will be springing up to make use of the soon-to-be-released USB 3.0 specification, how does a true high-definition webcam sound?

The impressive creation by industrial camera specialist Point Grey Research - due, according to Electronista, for unveiling at the Intel Developer Conference later this week - features a Sony three megapixel CMOS sensor and a USB 3.0 connector which, if the device supports the standard's SuperSpeed abilities, is capable of transferring at speeds of up to 4.8Gb/s.

While that might seem like overkill for a webcam, Point Grey's latest makes full use of the available bandwidth by transferring full uncompressed 1080p high-definition video to the host - meaning the computer itself can work on compression and signal analysis, potentially leading to both higher quality video and to more accurate facial recognition and other analytical processes. The lack of compression hardware in the device also keeps the camera's dimensions suitably svelte, at a size which - impressive lens aside - wouldn't seem out of the ordinary in a traditional VGA webcam.

While USB 3.0 is likely to find the most use in external storage devices - especially the increasingly fast SSD market, where its extremely high bandwidth will keep things whizzing along nicely - it's good to see companies thinking of alternative uses for all that bandwidth. Now all we need is for some manufacturers to release USB 3.0-enabled motherboards - or PCI Express add-in cards - at a sensible price.

Can you think of any other external devices - aside from HD cameras and storage - that could benefit from USB 3.0's impressive 4.8Gb/s bandwidth, or is that sort of speed overkill for anything else? Share your thoughts over in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
l3v1ck 21st September 2009, 10:33 Quote
Give it a few years to when external SSD prices come down, then I'll find USB3 very useful. Until then it's just a tick list feature for me.
Arkanrais 21st September 2009, 10:44 Quote
I wonder how much that camera will retail for.. ( >$100 I'm guessing)
I wouldn't mind having one of these hooked up with dorgem for a cheap HD motion sensor.
Yoy0YO 21st September 2009, 10:47 Quote
This is great! I can now rant on Youtube like fifty million other users, but now you can see my face in.. full 1080p (or whatever youtube compresses it to)
Dave Lister 21st September 2009, 10:54 Quote
Hate webcams ! your expected to talk to your family on msn or skype if you have one !
Abhorsen 21st September 2009, 11:00 Quote
HD - "Amateur" Webcam porn will be the first to utilise it i reckon...
logan'srun 21st September 2009, 11:22 Quote
you reckon? They will be the first.
Arkanrais 21st September 2009, 11:49 Quote
if USB 3.0 has enough bandwidth to transfer 1080p to your PC, could it also be used to transmit it to a monitor (in a similar way to DisplayLink's USB-DVI converter)?
Could be an interesting avenue for multi-screen on a laptop (quick, get your patent applications ready for a patent trollin' once there's a large market established on the tech).
TreeDude 21st September 2009, 13:25 Quote
It is the sound which is taking up all the bandwidth. The 1080p video shouldn't take up that much (Blu-Rays are 54Mbps for the 1080p video signal with lossy sound). HD sound is a huge bandwidth hog. The videos you take on that webcam will be huge in size.
HourBeforeDawn 21st September 2009, 16:28 Quote
okay I have heard a few companies cancel their usb 3.0 spec boards ASUS being one of them so when is this tech roughly suppose to come out? any hard dates or is it still a quarter type release date and if so which quarter?
Gareth Halfacree 21st September 2009, 16:43 Quote
Originally Posted by TreeDude
It is the sound which is taking up all the bandwidth. The 1080p video shouldn't take up that much (Blu-Rays are 54Mbps for the 1080p video signal with lossy sound). HD sound is a huge bandwidth hog. The videos you take on that webcam will be huge in size.
Not quite - the video on Blu-ray is 54Mb/s *lossy compressed*. An uncompressed 1080p video stream is 3Gb/s - and that's assuming you're using 24-bit colour and not 48-bit colour.
1ad7 21st September 2009, 17:02 Quote
Wow this will do wonders for webcam porn. Some other ideas are Mp3 players, Id love to transfer 80gbs like that. Maybe someone will make a Mobile audio player that supports flac and has internals that are worthy of lossless. I would love to have lossless audio in my car :)
Nature 21st September 2009, 20:53 Quote
I reckon he reckons...

I hope whilst increasing the bandwidth, it will also supply enough power to support an external 3.5 hdd... like the 2.5 ones that need not a power cord and just use USB power...
xprodancer 22nd September 2009, 01:24 Quote
sounds a great idea! i wonder what i could get up to with that cam! ;-) but more to the point we need motherboards that will start to support USB3 so we can move on now! its been a long time coming!!!!
Saivert 22nd September 2009, 02:03 Quote
I will certainly not buy addon cards for USB 3.0 connectivity. That's a waste of money. I will go USB 3.0 when I upgrade motherboard.
But surely they will manufacture them.
B3CK 22nd September 2009, 14:50 Quote
Did I miss an informative article or link to the USB 3.0 article? As opposed to USB 3.0 peripherals.

I guess I did, Search FTW.
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