5 minutes with David Chen CTO of Orbbec

David Chen is the CTO of Orbbec, an industry leader in 3D vision technology. Here, he discusses how this technology is transforming the healthcare industry

Hi David, please introduce yourself and your role.

“My name is David Chen, and I am the co-founder and Chief Technical Officer of Orbbec. As a widely published research engineer, my expertise lies in digital imaging technology, optical measurement and imaging processing. I hold a PhD in mechanical engineering from Oakland University.”

What led you to this industry?

“Before starting Orbbec, our founders were focused on 3D-vision-based measurement technologies on material property and structural stability at the industrial level. As we worked on this technology, we discovered 3D-vision-based technology plays a vital role in many other industries as well. Our team was particularly inspired by the Microsoft Kinect launch – sparking our idea to put 3D technology into an ASIC chip and make it affordable for a variety of industries.”

What is Orbbec?
“Orbbec is an industry leader in providing 3D vision technologies that is dedicated to creating intelligent technologies for every human, everywhere. Achieving this requires superb 3D cameras that are affordably priced and universally available.

“At Orbbec, we are committed to applying 3D vision technology to various industries including retail, robotics, transportation, logistics, entertainment, healthcare and many other fields.”

Tell us how 3D technology is transforming the healthcare industry.

“3D camera technology is vital to the innovations being made in healthcare today. During the pandemic, 3D embedded robots made drastic changes to the healthcare field that will certainly be prevalent in a post-pandemic world. 

“These 3D embedded robots performed several tasks in hospitals to help reduce the spread of viruses like COVID-19, including automated disinfection, supply transportation, custodial and guiding tasks in hospitals.

“Today, robotic nurses carry out repetitive and monotonous tasks that eat into staff’s time. With more time to focus on patients, staff can handle issues that require human decision-making skills, care and empathy.

“3D tech is already deployed in other areas of healthcare, both at home and in hospitals, with great success. For example, 3D cameras can capture the patient’s 3D shape and positions during CT or MRI scans, allowing for AI software to quickly recommend and adjust the optimum scan position.

“A few additional examples include fall detection and patient monitoring via 3D cameras, which have already been deployed in hospitals worldwide. Using structured light technology, Orbbec’s Astra Series can perceive objects and people that are in the path of the projected infrared pattern. This information allows CogvisAI technology to detect unusual movement inside a room to alert staff of a potential problem such as a fall with a patient. 

“Similarly, 3D cameras aid in making post-surgery rehabilitation therapy and recovery more engaging and accessible. Utilising Orbbec 3D depth camera with body tracking with Mira’s software makes recovery and recuperation easier for patients, helping those who are coming through surgery or injury to regain their mobility as well as cognitive functions. 

“With the introduction of gamification, patients have fun and interact in ways that make recovery in the comfort of their home possible. This technology also tracks the process of their recovery, providing valuable information that can be used to adjust and personalise therapy programs for a speedier recovery.”

What is 3D camera technology and how does it protect patient confidentiality?

“3D camera technology utilises perception of depth in images to replicate three dimensions as experienced through human binocular vision. In the healthcare realm, patient confidentiality is necessary across all sectors. At Orbbec, our systems don’t need to use the RGB data collected by our cameras all the time, so we can protect privacy very well. In some instances, such as when a patient has fallen to the ground or 3D embedded robots are roaming the halls, 3D cameras may interpret anomalies in depth data without the need to read every detail in the image, protecting patient-specific data.”

During your time here, what has been your biggest lesson?

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned at Orbbec is to slow down and focus on the little details. Slowing down has allowed us to home in on improving our designs and manufacturing process. We’ve also learned to focus on the things we’re good at. There is so much potential in the 3D technology space, but oftentimes these potential opportunities don’t work out. At Orbbec, we’re dedicated to putting our time and effort into the projects we know we can find success with.”

What do the next 12 months hold for you and the company?
“So far in 2022, we have seen the exponential growth of our product line – announcing both the Persee+ and the Femto Time of Flight (ToF) camera line. Both innovations are huge steps forward in industries such as retail, robotics and other fields. 

“In the next 12 months, we will continue to focus on bringing industry-changing products to our customers and collaborating with leading platforms on AI and algorithm software to provide reliable hardware pushing our 3D vision forward.”


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