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11/6/2008
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Web 2.0 Summit: Intel Shows Off Secret Mobile Device

Larger than an iPhone and smaller than an ultramobile PC, Intel's device could perform real-time image-to-text optical character recognition and translation from Chinese to English.


Intel CEO Paul Otellini at Web 2.0 Summit

Intel CEO Paul Otellini at Web 2.0 Summit
(click for larger image)
Photo by James Duncan Davidson

Intel president and CEO Paul Otellini appeared on stage at the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco on Thursday morning to present a vision of the future in which mobile devices have the power of today's desktop computers.

There was a prototype device, of course, powered by Intel chips. It was larger than an iPhone and smaller than an ultramobile PC. It was a template for tomorrow, powered by hidden PCs behind the couch on stage.

The Intel employee holding the device, identified only as Craig, proceeded to take the audience on a photo-driven business trip to China. Using these images, Craig showed how his prototype Intel device could perform real-time image-to-text optical character recognition and translation from Chinese to English, in order to allow a hypothetical traveler to read a Chinese menu in English. He also showed how it could translate English text to Chinese speech, to ask for a table for two.

This theoretical device with "Intel inside" exists in a world where enterprises have embraced social networking. Otellini said that he believed companies will benefit as the social networking paradigm gets adopted behind corporate firewalls.

"[Social networking] tools can be applied to the workplace, but they haven’t been to date," he said.

To illustrate the possibilities, he showed slides depicting a graph of a social network with an imaginary employee, Lily Chen, at the center of spokes radiating out to her colleagues. The mocked-up screen shots looked at bit like the glossy RADUS portal or iGoogle after a Flash makeover, but geared toward workplace productivity. It provided drop-down menus for Chen's product network, project files, collaboration tools, virtual meetings, and newsfeeds.

"These tools don't exist today," said Otellini. "We're building some of them at Intel."

Intel, of course, isn't the only company to see promise in the meeting of Web 2.0 concepts and enterprise needs. But Intel's motivation for pursuing this goal is the same as other Enterprise 2.0 startups.

"There's an interesting thing about business tools and software: [The customers] pay for it," explained Otellini.

Otellini assured conference moderator John Battelle that for the next six to seven years, Moore's Law would not be repealed. He said Intel would be rolling out 32-nanometer chips next year and that his company had the next two generations proofed out.

"We're the custodians of Moore's Law," he said. "There's no CEO at Intel who wants to end Moore's Law."

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