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Tuesday, January 07, 2014
Intel CEO Unveils Products, Initiatives and Collaborations for More Wearable Devices

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich at CES outlined a range of products, initiatives and relationships aimed at accelerating innovation across a range of mobile and wearable devices as well as individual inventors' own connected creations.

Krzanich's keynote painted a vision of how the landscape of computing is being re-shaped and where security is too important not to have it embedded in all devices. As examples, he highlighted several technologies that Intel will begin offering this year. For example, the company is bringing human senses to Intel-based devices in a new family of hardware and software products called Intel RealSense technology.

Intel's CEO also discussed how Intel is addressing data and device security and conflict minerals from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). He said Intel had achieved a critical milestone and the minerals used in microprocessor silicon and packages manufactured in Intel's factories are "conflict-free" as concluded by third-party audits or direct validation by Intel's supply chain organization.

"Two years ago, I told several colleagues that we needed a hard goal, a commitment to reasonably conclude that the metals used in our microprocessors are conflict-free," Krzanich said. "We felt an obligation to implement changes in our supply chain to ensure that our business and our products were not inadvertently funding human atrocities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Even though we have reached this milestone, it is just a start. We will continue our audits and resolve issues that are found."

Krzanich said Intel is actively pursuing a range of products and initiatives, with the goal of accelerating wearable device innovation. Intel's approach to this next evolution in computing is to imagine and create reference design devices and platforms ready for use by customers in developing wearable products, he said.

Intel's CEO highlighted number of wearable reference devices, including smart earbuds that provide biometric and fitness capabilities, a smart headset that is always ready to engage and can integrate with existing personal assistant technologies and a smart wireless charging bowl.

Intel has developed a reference design for a hands -free, smart headset that is always ready to engage and can integrate with existing personal assistant technologies. The fully integrated compute system is housed in a Bluetooth earpiece with a battery, speaker and microphones featuring Intel- developed firmware and software. It provides all- day battery life and is designed to be comfortable enough to be worn all day.

The Intel smart headset reference design uses Sensory's low power, always-listening voice recognition technology. The CES technology demonstration showcased the following capabilities:

- Oneshot - This feature allows the user to speak without pausing after being prompted. For example, the user can ask a question and get a response in one shot versus waiting for the personal assistant to respond to the initial inquiry.

- Barge-in - This feature allows the user to stop the personal assistant from speaking by double tapping the smart headset or using a key phrase to stop it.

- Polite notification - Using on-board sensors, this feature keeps track of the user's current situation and can determine the best time to provide information, without interrupting.

Intel has also developed a reference design for a smart wireless charging bowl. The reference design complements Intel's smart headset, helping to make charging more convenient. Simply drop the smart headset into the smart wireless charging bowl and it will begin to recharge.

The smart wireless charging bowl with stand is approximately 10 inches in diameter.

The reference design is capable of charging multiple devices simultaneously without exact alignment or placement. This is a key benefit of magnetic resonance technology, which is the foundation for the A4WP industry specification.

Intel is developing wireless charging technology to deliver " nowires" convenience across a broad range of mobile devices (e.g. headsets, phones, tablets, Ultrabooks and 2 in 1s) all based on the A4WP industry specification that Intel is helping to develop.

The Intel CEO also announced collaborations with Barneys New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Opening Ceremony to explore and bring to market new smart wearable technologies, and to increase dialogue and cooperation between the fashion and technology industries. He also kicked-off the Intel 'Make it Wearable' challenge, a global effort aimed at accelerating creativity with technology. The effort will call upon creative minds to consider factors impacting the proliferation of wearable devices and ubiquitous computing, such as meaningful usages, aesthetics, battery life, security and privacy.

In addition to developing reference devices for wearable technology, Intel will offer a number of accessible, low-cost entry platforms. These are aimed at helping lower entry barriers for individuals and small companies to create Internet-connected wearables or other small form factor devices.

Underscoring this point, Krzanich announced Intel Edison, a new Intel Quark technology-based computer housed in an SD card form factor with built-in wireless capabilities and support for multiple operating systems. From prototype to production, Intel Edison will enable product development by a range of inventors, entrepreneurs and consumer product designers when available this summer.

Intel Edison is based on 22nm Intel Quark technology for ultra -small and low power-sensitive, Internet of Things edge devices, smart consumer products and wearable computing. The product features an Intel processor and microcontroller core. The programmable microcontroller helps manage I/Os and other baseline functions, while the x86 compatible processor core brings Linux support and enables multiple operating systems to run high-level user applications. The small compute package brings connectivity with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth LE, and has LPDDR2 and NAND flash storage as well as a wide array of flexible and expandable I/O capabilities.

"Wearables are not everywhere today because they aren't yet solving real problems and they aren't yet integrated with our lifestyles," said Krzanich. "We're focused on addressing this engineering innovation challenge. Our goal is, if something computes and connects, it does it best with Intel inside."

Krzanich also unveiled the Intel Security brand, which will identify Intel products and services in the security segment, and disclosed plans to transition McAfee products to the Intel Security brand while retaining the familiar red shield.

"The complexity of keeping digital identities safe grows as mobile applications and devices become a more important part of our daily lives," Krzanich said. "Intel's intent is to intensify our efforts dedicated to making the digital world more secure, and staying ahead of threats to private information on mobile and wearable devices."

Krzanich announced that Intel plans to offer elements of McAfee's security solutions for mobile devices for free. These data and device protection solutions help guard today's most popular mobile devices, including Apple iPhone, Apple iPad and Android devices.

As corporate "bring-your-own-device" programs have grown in popularity, many firms have prohibited Android-based devices that weren't compatible with their companies' security requirements. Intel Security this year will offer Intel Device Protection technology, which will help Intel-based Android mobile devices meet most security standards for use at home and work.

The DRC has been plagued for years by regional conflict. According to a report to the United Nations Security Council Committee, a source of funding violence for armed groups includes the trade of mineral products from the DRC. Some of these so-called "conflict minerals" are in many kinds of products, including electronics.

Intel has implemented a process within its supply chain organization to validate that its sources - the smelters that provide tantalum, tin, tungsten and gold used in microprocessor silicon and packages manufactured in Intel factories - are not inadvertently funding this conflict in the DRC. Krzanich challenged the entire electronics industry to join Intel in its efforts.

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