Intel has unveiled its RealSense 3D cameras that are small enough to fit in a laptop lid and smart enough to scan with depth awareness. It could potentially recognise facial expressions and even scan objects for 3D printing.

The 3D camera essentially sees as we do. The 1080p full-colour cameras are even smart enough to understand emotions, Intel claims.

Intel has teamed up with 3D Systems to show how a smart 3D camera will be able to scan the real world to make actual objects virtual. Then you can send them to a friend online to be printed out at their end. Other partners that will use the RealSense cameras include Autodesk, DreamWorks, Metaio, Microsoft and Skype.

RealSense will appear this year in tablet, Ultrabook, notebook, all-in-one and other mobile devices from Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo and NEC.

Since the cameras can recognise your face you'll be able to track around an image, as in Google Earth, by simply moving your head. A bit like Oculus Rift but without all the headgear.

Expect to see RealSense backed into devices later in the year.