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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

January 6, 2014 at 6:55 PM

CES 2014: Intel goes ultra mobile, wearable

LAS VEGAS — Intel Chief Executive Brian Krzanich opened the Consumer Electronics Show with a preview of new products the company is releasing this year, including new wearable computing devices and a computer the size of an SD memory card.

intel edison

“We are in the midst of a transformation from a world of screens and devices to a world of immersive experiences,” he said during the show’s opening night keynote presentation.

The coming wave of “wearables” also offers Intel another chance to crack the market for mobile devices after it largely missed the smartphone business.

The wearables category has been held back because they don’t integrate all the features people want and don’t solve real-world problems, he said.

Intel’s response was to “make everything smart,” he said.

His first example: “smart earbuds” that combine earbuds with fitness tracking sensors. They record pulse and heart rate and work with fitness apps on the phone. The reference design — for other companies to build upon — are charged through their plug into a phone.

Krzanich also showed a “smart headset,” a Bluetooth earpiece that includes a lag-free “personal assistant” program similar to Apple’s Siri.

To charge the headset, phones and other devices, Intel developed a “smart bowl,” which uses wireless charging to power up gadgets placed inside.

In the category of smartwatches, Intel has designed a watch with “geo fencing,” which can send alerts when it moves outside of a user-defined area. The idea is to build watches that could be worn by children, for instance, to notify parents if the wearer moves out of a particular neighborhood.

Even more impressive, though, was a new computer Intel built in a “case” the size of an SD memory card (pictured above). Called “Edison,” it uses Intel’s new 22 nanometer, ultra-small Quark platform. Edison devices include Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Flash storage capabilities plus an x86 compatible processor.

Krzanich showed how Edison devices can be incorporated into a coffee mug, baby toys and even a baby’s onesie that senses motion.

To stimulate development of Edison devices, Krzanich announced a “make it wearable” contest with $1.3 million in prizes. Intel will also work with winners to bring their projects to market.

Krzanich also announced that Intel will start offering its McAfee security software for mobile devices for free this year.

He didn’t leave out the PC business, which was largely built on its processors. Krzanich talked up “two in 1” devices that convert from a laptop to a tablet, either with a pivoting screen or detachable screen.

“This space of tablets and PCs are melding into two and one devices. It’s hard even for us to keep track of which is which,” he said.

Yet it’s not all about Windows. Krzanich showed a new PC hardware platform that runs both Windows and Android operating systems and toggles between them at the touch of a button.

“These capabilities will revolutionize how business gets done,” he said.

Krzanich also demonstrated a 3-D scanning system to be incorporated into tablets later this year. It includes multiple lenses on the back of the device and can be used to scan objects for output on a 3-D printer.

Three-dimensional scanning also enabled Intel to build a prototype video game on a tablet computer. In the demo, the tablet scanned the objects in a sandbox and generated a game on the screen in which a robot moved around the terrain modeled in the real world. Krzanich threw a piece of laundry into the sandbox and the game scanned it and turned it into a sort of mountain on the screen.

Krzanich also brought Valve co-founder Gabe Newell on stage to present the Bellevue company’s Steam Machines, including Gigabyte systems running Intel Core i7 processors and Intel’s integrated graphics system.

“PC gaming’s been growing explosively,” Newell said, before demonstrating “Dota 2” running on one of the fist-sized computers.

Finally, Krzanich discussed the use of “conflict minerals,” which fund armed groups in war-torn countries. He said the company has developed a process to validate the sources of its supplies and won’t use any conflict minerals in chips produced this year.

Comments | Topics: Android, CES 2014, intel


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