Here's why you might want an Intel RealSense camera on the back of the Lenovo MIIX 700

Lenovo will offer an Intel RealSense camera with it's new MIIX 700 camera, but only on the back, and only on non-LTE models. Options are good, but we've had a number of questions from people wondering why it's any use on the back at all?

It's important to remember that the RealSense technology is much more than just Windows Hello. Indeed, it doesn't even need Windows to work since you can also get similar set ups on Android tablets, too.

We got our first look at RealSense supported laptops and tablets back in January at CES. Lenovo had one on the front and Dell had one on the back of its Venue 8000 Android tablet. All of this before Windows Hello existed.

We spoke to Lenovo at IFA about why you might want a RealSense camera on the back of a tablet and they gave us a few examples. Imagine you're in a profession like Real Estate, interior design or construction. Thanks to the depth sensing capabilities of the RealSense camera array you could easily begin to map out plans, place furniture, begin to piece together the environment in front of you in 3D.

It's going to have its niche, but that doesn't make it useless. Far from it. The great thing about the Lenovo approach on the MIIX 700 is that you don't have to have it. It's an option. You're able to have a regular rear camera, too. But you also can't have a RealSense MIIX 700 with LTE appararently. It's one or the other, presumably because of the hardware constraints of squeezing both technologies into its frame.

RealSense has a developer SDK and as time goes by and it becomes more widely adopted, hopefully we'll begin to see some innovative pieces of software to put it to use.

More: Hands on with the Lenovo MIIX 700

Richard Devine
Managing Editor - Tech, Reviews

Richard Devine is a Managing Editor at Windows Central with over a decade of experience. A former Project Manager and long-term tech addict, he joined Mobile Nations in 2011 and has been found on Android Central and iMore as well as Windows Central. Currently, you'll find him steering the site's coverage of all manner of PC hardware and reviews. Find him on Mastodon at mstdn.social/@richdevine

66 Comments
  • So, lets say people understand what Lenovo's excuse is.
    Still makes it look retarded when it comes specifically to Windows Hello.
    Still makes it a bummer for those that also want LTE.
    And still more easy for people to wait for another surface like most would do at that price range. Good job Lenovo :)
  • And above all that, surface pro 4 will be finner
  • Finer or thinner?
  • A new hybrid mix of finer and thinner. Out of the box blue sky thinking, I like it...lol
  • Or winner?
  • Another armchair engineer takes the stage.
  • Lol
  • He will, however, first discourse on how badly engineered the stage is. Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • There is no excuse... it's just plain stupid! If options are good then there should be the option to have it face forward that way it can be used with Windows Hello and still all the other uses that Lenovo points out. That would truly give more options. I don't think anyonone would want to turn the whole tablet around or undock it everytime time they need to log in. This makes no sense! Oh well, I would never buy Lenovo anyway!
  • You dont NEED to log in that way, so why does it matter? I wouldnt use Hello, so wouldnt care.
  • This is the typical overreaction I've gotten used to in the comments section. RealSense was not created for the sole reason of being used for Hello and Lenovo is not contractually bound to make you happy with its tablet configurations. I'm willing to bet money than less than 1% use Hello anyway.
  • Wait wait wait. So, the world doesn't want the same exact thing I do? Lies!
  • He has a point. If the tablet comes with Windows 10 installed, it is stupid to have RealSense at the back.
  • that's a safe bet since there are probably less than 1% of computers equiped with real sense cameras. people thought that the touchid on the iphone was a gimmick, but people are using it and enjoy not having to enter their pin.
  • That's because those 99% don't have the hardware for Windows Hello.. If they did, they'd use it.
  • Yes there are many other uses for RealSense but go to Intel's website and the examples are with the cameras facing front... even one of the the 3D scanning examples it's facing front. 1) Digital doodle / paint in mid air 2) Video Chat reinvented 3) Change your background in chat 4) Gesture control with a wave 5) 22 hand tracking points for gaming and manipulating on screen 3D objects 6) 3D Scanning 7) 3D scan your face 8) Security It seems way more useful facing front. Obviously rear facing is very niche. http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/reals...      
  • Maybe you should reread the article, the only use for it in front is hello, other uses only make sense back facing. MS should allow login with the laptop closed, that would make sense and would be prettu cool too.
  • Davisorte its obvious that you don't understandit
  • But it seems Windows Hello will fit in a phone.. I hope we won't have to sacrifice LTE.. :P
  • I would love to see one that can swivel from front to back, or just charge me extra and put one on the front and another on the back?
  • I was just thinking of a rotating camera too. I saw one on a phone before but don't remember which one. It was made that way in case one needs to take a selfie.
  • A couple of Oppo phones have done that.
  • I also just thought of that
  • there is an allview phone doing that. but they ruined the phone by puttin SEVERAL restrictions when rotating it for selfies. so suddenly, the perfect capable camera became not really much better than a 5mp ff.
  • I know the LG 6xxV series had one. This was many years ago. 2005, 2006. Something like that. Before iphone. It was made for a Cingular video call service.
  • Yes, that would be a useful camera. This less so. Lets hope they don't market it with Windows Hello or a lot of people will be annoyed.
  • There are two versions of the real sense camera. A front facing near field one for applications like hello, and a rear facing far field one for applications like the article described. So unfortunately, there's no mixing them :( Posted via the Windows Central App for Android
  • Marketing strategy, I guess...
  • Ehhhh, just give us Surface Pro 4 already.
  • I wonder why some bloggers feel the urge to explain what some company's marketing had in mind. Do they pay for it? I'm sure Apple doesn't and I think Lenovo doesn't too. Free advertising space?
  • Probably just doing their job and clearing up the questions people had yesterday about the fact the camera was on the rear. You know, like a journalism kind of thing. Sheesh.
  • Yeah...not like we left our families to spend the week at IFA for absolutely nothing!
  • You know, journalism is about facts. Blogs are about opinion. And week in Berlin... That must be really traumatic.
  • Maybe it's to help the Windows ecosystem and stop a bunch of people complaining over nothing. Regardless, my only interest in real sense is Windows Hello so they lost a possible sale by putting it on the back. But as the article describes there is a market for people who want it on the back. Like I said in my previous comment the best solution is to have a single camera that can swivel around from front to back, also gives flexibility of different angles which is cool, but I guess you do loose some durability and add a few extra grams of weight and a few millimeters of space and since everyone wants everything super light and super tiny it's not a popular design choice. Give me function over beauty any day, if it gets too heavy I'll go to the gym lol.
  • I'd +920 to that! Cheers! Haha
  • And, let me tell you brother, that you are not alone....
  • Woah there, let's not do anything drastic. I mean, if a device is too heavy I will certainly adapt to it rather than deal with a useless lightweight piece of tech... but the gym? There are people there! and you have to go outside to get there! and there are intimidating pretty girls there! and complicated equipment that makes a CPU architecture look *simple*! Don't do anything too drastic for the sake of lifting heavy technology.
    ... the gym is such a scary place...
  • Haha so true, but I think you get my point, if a 250g phone has everything I want I'll deal with the weight rather than go for a 130g phone that does only half of what I want and the only selling point is "hey that phone looks really nice and look it's so light and thin!"
  • I always hate the argument that this phone is better because it's this little-bit lighter. Yes, the lighter it is, the easier it is to hold for longer. I get that, I do, but I am not a baby, and can hold a phone for the duration I need to.
  • Hey twitter just got another update for windows phone
  • Really? Construction and real estate?
    Every single review of the RealSense cameras to date says that it is a cute gimick that *could* bring some depth to family picture *if* there was a better way to view the content; but that it is less than useless for anything more than 5-6' away, and not accurate to use for anything that requires any kind of precision. In fact, the only real positive I have read about RealSense is that it can be used for things like Hello. This is clearly a C-level override where someone looked at a parts sheet and said 'the expensive camera is clearly better, so put it on the back where it can take pictures' without putting any thought into it whatsoever. I generally love Lenovo, but they have really made some dumb moves over the last year.
  • Most of those people carry iPad's just go watch HGTV. while I'm not complaining, I'm pointing out a real fact. I also think the people on HGTV would buy a surface over a Lenovo because Americans are stuck on top notch name brands, so while I think Lenovo makes great systems, I think people would buy Apple, Samsung, and Surface first.
  • Not only that, but the cited example makes no sense. A real estate agent would be EXACTLY the person that NEEDS that LTE connection at the house they're walking through!!
  • Yeah, but the majority of users would want it for Windows Hello. It is a killer feature that sounds like won't be available on this.
  • Okay but it still doesn't make sense to only offer it on the back. As you point out, it would be valuable there only for niche users, whereas on the front it would be usefull for ALL users.
  • Good thing this article isn't trying to justify lenovo's design decisions.
  • Is this a thing now? To complain about a writer writing about what a product is useful for? Is this for real?
  • I don't know what you're getting at - I'm not complaining. I'm being congratulatory. Yes, some commentators eat, sleep and blindly fornicate msft, wp and Lenovo; I'm not a sycophant. Nor am I being hostile. This article was useful and well written and NOT justifying lenovo's design decision - to make it simple, this wasn't clickbait but actually a useful article on the uses of a camera set up, on the rear of the device. I own a number of companies, one of which is a publisher: Some of the magazines talk about national trust properties - floor plans are created, and mock 3d walkthroughs, stone of which are sold to the National trust. Given all that, the camera placement is extremely useful. Many people don't get that and are berating Lenovo and beating their chest. I'm happy this article isn't justifying lenovo's design decisions but rather going through an informed discussion of the myriad uses of said camera set up. If I wanted to complain I would. Besides; everyone is entitled to an opinion. You to yours. I to mine. What someone posted is not any of your business, unless, of course, they insult you. Hope that clears things up. :)
  • One of the primary uses of a back mounted realsense camera is 3D object scanning. I could see this being especially useful for anyone who wants to make or reproduce anything custom to be 3D printed. To me, 3D scanning needs to become ubiquitous before 3D printing will find day to day mainstream use cases.
  • Yes, because there are way more people into 3D scanning and printing, than would like a cool new way to log into their PCs.  I don't think there is any question that a Real Sense could be useful on the back for something. The immediate reality is that MS has been tauting Hello, it requires Real Sense, and that would imply the camera needs to be on the front. Putting one on the back, where it has limited utility (currently) when the general expectation is that it is associated with Hello, seems like a blunder. 
  •   terrible video preview.
  • How about having one in the front as well as the back..??
  • It's a perfect opportunity for an accessory maker to come up with some sort of mirrored add on. Pop it over the camera and it can see to the front for Windows Hello.
  • I don't think that's possible...
  • Something like that has been done
  • Sounds like Lenovo implemented a new tool for remote social networking and surveillance using the RealSense 3D camera. I know, there's no conspiracy....
  • Still useless to 99% of us.
  • When is Microsoft announcing the SP4?
  • You mean the Miix has both Realsense cameras, front and rear? It's not clear in the article. Still, it's great, they're different cameras, the rear one I can see being used to film rather than just videochat.
  • It is possible to be critical of a design choice without needing to be a product engineer. I know some commenters go over the top with their concerns as though placing a 3D camera on the back or not having "real" buttons on a phone are life and death decisions. Yet that tendency does not justify the now increasing common response that appears to dismiss any criticism from a mere consumer because they aren't software or hardware engineers. Of course I don't know what criteria Lenovo used in putting together the Miix other than the obvious one of copying the design of the Surface Pro 3 as much as possible, but I am skeptical that there is much of a market more interested in Real Sense camera facing backward than facing forward, particularly for a device running Windows 10. And if there really is market for this, why not mount the camera on a swivel as someone else suggested? I've never owned a Lenovo device but when I've seen them in the Microsoft Store and played around with them, there is always something in their design decisions that is off putting. I'm not an engineer, but I am a consumer. And a back facing Real Sense camera is not going to draw me to a Surface Pro clone, cheaper or not.        
  • Here is why I might want a Real Sense camera on the back. Thing is, I know why I DO want a Real Sense camera on the front.
  • It's useless. Stop spinning this into a positive. This is an illogical design choice.
  • I'm guessing there's a deal between lenovo and MS about this. MS allowed the surface design copying but asked not to put a realsense camera since it will definitely be a better choice than surface 3 for average consumers and might cannibalize SP4 sales too. Purely speculating tho.
  • You're able to have a regular rear camera, too. But you also can't have a RealSense MIIX 700 with LTE appararently.
    Given their example use cases, it's really confusing that they did not offer it with LTE. The use cases are all clearly related to out-of-your-house scenarios where Wifi is unlikely to be available.
    I am sure that the suggested reason (space conflicts) is the reason, but seems like a big marketing failure akin to Microsoft never releasing a Surface Pro with LTE, which two high-up business friends are waiting for to purchase (fortunately tethering is becoming more realistic).
  • I can almost guarantee that the Surface Pro 4 or 5 will have one in the rear as well as future surface/lumia phones. People need to remember the January event when they showed those slides of people without HoloLens interacting with what the person wearing HoloLens was seeing. I don't think you can do that without IR cameras in the rear. This would make sure Windows Holographic is even more of a success if all you need is your tablet or phone to get a close experience, and if you want the full immersion you pony up the money for a HoloLens.
  • What I, find rather funny is that no matter who it is be that Microsoft,manufacturers, Android and IOS operating systems. People in these forums always know best. But what I'm seeing is slough of Windows products coming out. And some of them look pretty dam good. Just saying.