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Skylake who? Intel focuses on smart devices and natural computing at IDF keynote

Mark Hachman | Aug. 19, 2015
Intel teams up with Survivor creator to announce a million-dollar reality show, too.

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In years past, Intel would have used its Intel Developer Forum to unveil its processor roadmap, run some benchmarks, and call it a day. But at IDF 2015, the company’s just-launched “Skylake” processor got as much stage time as the so-called vending machine of the future.

Instead, Intel emphasized the Internet of Things: not the company’s traditional focus, but what it is building its future around. And perhaps the biggest announcement was a reality show, America’s Greatest Makers, with Mark Burnett, the brains behind Survivor. The million-dollar contest will track ideas in the IoT industry from their concept to development, with Intel responsible for judging the winner.

“I continue to see IDF as one of the places in the world to see the future in technology and innovation,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said.

Before the keynote even began, attendees were treated to a digital pinball game, as giant inflatable balls bounced around the audience. A Rube Goldberg-like contraption launched the keynote itself, together with flying “IDF” balls floating above. All of those were bult with Intel technology, Krzanich said.

Krzanich said that the traditional IDF format of showing the company’s roadmap had worked for many years, but that the company wanted to push further than ever before.

“I look at all the opportunities, and one thing is clear: computing is everywhere: in our bags, our homes, our cars,” Krzanich said. “In just about every thing we do, computing is there where it is.”

Intel now assumes three things about the future of computing, Krzanich said. The first assumption is what Krazanich called the sensification of computing: that computers will see, hear, and touch. The second assumption is that everything will become smart and connected, opening up a universe of possibilities. The third assumption is that computing becomes an “extension of you,” coming alive through wearables and other technology.

Computing used to be confined to a two-dimensional world, with a keyboard, mouse, and a touchscreen. “But thats not enough for today’s world,” Krzanich said.

The new dimension is sound. To date, sound has come from the PC. In the future, Intel envisions that your computer will always be listening. “Communicating with a device should be a two-way conversation, like we have in our lives,” he said.

Intel’s SmartSound technology is one of the most important breakthroughs in digital audio in some time, Krzanich said. A “wake on voice” feature will wake a Windows 10 PC just by saying, “Hey Cortana.” Intel executives gave a brief demo of Cortana’s capabilities, including playing music.

“This starts to allow you to have a real conversation with your device,” Krzanich said. Wake on voice will be available in Intel processors from Atom to Core.


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