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Research at Intel means that Big Brother may be watching you

by Tarinder Sandhu on 18 September 2007, 06:53

Tags: Intel (NASDAQ:INTC)

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Research at Intel

Andrew Chien, Vice President of the Corporate Technology Group and Director of Intel Research, kicked off IDF by recapping Intel's commitment to research and development.

Intel has nearly one thousand researchers worldwide, spread around 15 locations. Conducting world-class research, delivering innovative technologies, collaborating with industry peers is its raison d'etre, he commented. The corporate technology division has four focus areas, comprising of tera-scale computing, energy-efficient platforms, wireless technology, and UMPCs.

Andrew, though, primarily heads up exploratory research that's spread across 7 different sites in 3 countries. Intel, Andrew said, collaborates maintains close ties with several leading universities, to further across the board.

Technology that really helps you?

Intel sees technology becoming more personal and essential in the next 10 years. With that notion in mind, Intel is trying to simplify and enrich your personal life, Andrew enthused.

Personal awareness is one such facet, with technology empowering the user to achieve their goals - exercise monitoring, for example. Future computing technologies should also allow you to communicate more richly with one another, far better than, say, instant messaging of today. Technology should be a solution and work seamlessly. That kind of statement smacks of common sense above all else, in our humble opinion.

As an example, Andrew highlighted a mobile-sensing platform, designed to act as a fitness device with a multitude of data-reporting, which, he said, fell under the banner of human activity recognition. Here, he noted, devices with multiple sensors could help simplify one's life. UbiFit is one such program that uses hardware to monitor physical activity, and associated software is designed to motivate the user. Andrew displayed a phone with the appropriate software and ambient information integrated. The goal-oriented display used flowers to display activity progress - wonderful! Would you work out harder if your phone displayed pretty graphics? I certainly wouldn't.

Thinking further afield in the realm of digital health and probing the lucrative industry that is managed care, having an array of sensors in one's home, hooked-up to your care provider, could facilitate in instances where aid is required. However, data intrusion, we reckon, seems like an issue, with 'Big Brother' watching you.

Bring the web together

On a different note, the concept of the semantic web (mash-ups) will become pervasive in the near future. Mashups - where a single application references multiple data (Google searches leading to Amazon purchases, for example) to enhance user experience - are still being built by technology companies, but Intel has been pursuing a project that aims to bring mash-ups to a much wider audience, allowing users to build their own mash-ups - spreadsheet, browser, and file system in an all-in-one app. Intel Mash Maker is a project to empower users to have their own personal mashes, and we'll be looking at it in more detail later.


Segueing nicely into the field of bio-sensors, Andrew noted that the ability to integrate a greater number of transistors in a given area (Moore's Law) means that sensors have become fare more capable, and that theme is going to continue, obviously. Couple sophisticated sensing, intelligent software, and a proliferation of mobile devices, and you have the basis of 'enriching' your life.


Intel's Essential Computing program, then, aims to empower the user to better control their lives by simplifying and enriching all aspects of work and leisure. We reckon that this area of research is so large that a one-fits-all philosophy will be hard to roll out successfully. We've heard this talk from Intel over the past few years and yet we lament that very few practical devices have been released that, as the saying goes, 'improves your life'.

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He didn't really say anything of substance, did he?

“Would you work out harder if your phone displayed pretty graphics? I certainly wouldn't.” No it wouldn't motivate me either, but if, instead of flowers, it played really, really 'naff ring tunes when your activity has been low, would that? :)