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Intel chief opens CES with parade of wearables

James Niccolai | Jan. 7, 2014
Intel's CEO, battling to keep the company relevant as computing moves beyond the PC, introduced a new line of wearable computers Monday night, including a connected smartwatch and a pair of earbuds with a built-in heart monitor.

On stage, he showed a baby's onesie that was fitted with sensors to monitor its temperature, pulse and breathing. By clipping a toy turtle with Edison inside onto the onesie, the baby's vitals are broadcast to the parents.

But instead of being sent to a PC or a smartphone app, the data was sent to a pair of smart coffee mugs that flashed colored lights when the baby needed attention. A smart milk bottle warmer nearby began to heat milk as soon as the baby started crying.

It's a whole new world of embedded computing that Intel and other vendors at CES hope to propagate, but whether people will respond to that much technology in their lives remains to be seen. The industry has a tendency to develop technologies and find out later if people want to use them.

Such pervasive computing will raise new concerns about privacy and security. To help address security, Krzanich announced that parts of Intel's McAfee security software will be available free of charge this year for use in all mobile devices. McAfee products will also transition to a new Intel Security brand over time.

"It doesn't even have to be IA (the Intel Architecture)," Krzanich said. "It could be ARM, it could be anything."

It will be up to device makers if they want Intel's security software in their gadgets, but if they do it could be a handy way for Intel to get its technology into more phones and tablets.

Krzanich also talked about the growing use of tablets in the workplace, where he said people need both Android and Windows. To that end, he announced what he called "the world's first dual-OS system running both Windows and Android."

It's a tablet that lets the user switch quickly between Windows and Android, apparently at the push of a button, without needing to reboot the system. He didn't say when it would be offered as an actual product or who by.

These capabilities will revolutionize how business gets done," according to the Intel CEO.

He also showed additional uses for the RealSense 3D imaging technology that Intel announced earlier Monday. It's a camera sensor that fits into a laptop or tablet and can build a 3D map of what it sees, a bit like the technology in Microsoft's Kinect.

An engineer created a 3D scan of an Intel "bunny" toy, then used design software to turn the 3D image into a key ring. He then printed the key ring on stage using a 3D printer.

The idea was to show how businesses could use RealSense to change the way they design and prototype products, one of the big emerging uses for 3D printing.

 

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