Projects From The Intel Research Laboratories
Intel held an event on the west side of New York City this week, where the company showed off some of the interesting projects being worked on in a few of the Intel Lablets that are scatted throughout the United States, at various company and university campuses. We were in attendance at the event and snapped off a number of photos to give you all a glimpse as to what was going on.
The event was not about showcasing a single product or family of products, but rather a number of interesting concepts that are being developed by Intel's, or Intel affiliated, research engineers.
One of the coolest demos on display was of wireless power technology. Using a pair of inductors, and a power source, the apparatus was able to transfer 120v AC current wirelessly across the table to power a light bulb. To goal is to eventually shrink the receiving device down small enough to fit into portable electronics and to have the power sending device embedded into walls or other larger, common, electronic devices, and to be able to re-charge or power devices wirelessly while you stand within range of them.
Right next to the wireless power station, were a couple of RFID demos. Using completely passive components, the project's aim is to find other uses for RFID tags. Of the two tags on the table, one featured an accelerometer and the other a thermal probe. The one with the accelerometer was able to send positional data and tilt an image of Saturn on the screen in real-time, And the other with the thermal probe was able to send temperature data. One of the potential uses for the thermal-probe equipped tags is in the agricultural markets, where the tags could be used to wirelessly monitor the temperature of food products while in transit to more easily, and efficiently weed out batches that could have gone bad due to too high, or too low temperatures.
Intel was also showing off a cool retail kiosk technology, that used x86 processors and RFID technology. The table featured a touch-screen, and the sales-rep could enable the POS system with a RFID tag and ring customers up, apply coupons, etc., with a rich graphical interface. We could definitely see something like this put to use in more upscale shops around the country.
An assortment of Atom, Centrino, and Moorestown-based MIDs and UMPCs were also on display, but there was nothing there that we hadn't seen, or showed you, before in our coverage from IDF the past couple of years.
Another interesting demo showcases the UbiGreen and UbiFit concepts. Both UbiFit and UbiGreen use Windows Mobile devices in tandem with a wearable Bluetooth monitor to encourage owners to either get fit or go green. The software takes over the Windows Mobile device's screensaver and background, and replaces it with an assortment of landscapes or images. As users perform green or physical activities, and the wearable monitor send applicable data, the landscapes change and show flowers blooming or leaves growing on a tree, among other thigns. The software also reminds users to perform activities and encourages them to grow a more beautiful garden or fuller tree, etc.
Intel was also showing off some of the consumer electronics devices that are available, that are based on Intel processor technology. There was a very cool media phone on display from OpenPeak, powered by an Atom processor, that ran Linux. And an Atom-based car computer / navigation / entertainment system from Azentek that ran Windows Vista.
Some of the more future-looking projects at the event pertained to robotics. There was a rep at the event talking about real-time visual model object recognition, personal robotics, and also programmable matter. Yes, we said programmable matter. The goal of the programmable matter project is to ultimately produce a device that can be morphed into different shapes, colors, etc.. Intel talked about the possibility of producing devices from tiny spheres, called catoms, that contain processors, memory, etc, that could interact and bond with each other using electro-magnetism or electro-static energy. The devices could then be morphed through software controls or even human touch. Think about having the ability to squeeze your cell phone down to the size of pack of gum when it's in your pocket, and then being able to pull it out, and stretch it to the size of a paperback book so its screen could be larger while browsing the web, for example. Prototype electromagnetic catoms can be seen on the table in the picture at the far right.
There were Intel-powered set-top boxes and Blue-Ray players on display (built by Gigabyte) that used the Yahoo widget engine to offer internet access on an HDTV. Using the remote control alone, users could run the various widgets and access Facebook, Twitter, news services, etc.
Intel was also talking about advances in parallelism and was showing off a number of applications that benefitted from multiple processors cores. The ray-traced Quake demo we've shown you a number of times was being shown again, as was an interactive video technology that let users being captured on camera interact with balls being shown on the screen, in real time. There was an assisted driving demo as well, that showed how the software could track more objects, more smoothly, as the number of cores at work in the system was increased.
Finally, the 80-core Terascale processor we showed you in our coverage from IDF 2007 was on display as well. An entire wafer of 80-score processors manufactured using Intel's 65nm process node was on hand, as was a fully packaged Terascale chip. Cool stuff indeed.