Intel CEO: 'Make Everything Smart' - InformationWeek

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Intel CEO: 'Make Everything Smart'

"Intel Inside" will take on a whole new meaning in the age of wearable tech and the Internet of Things.

CES 2014: 8 Technologies To Watch
CES 2014: 8 Technologies To Watch
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich faced myriad questions as he took the stage Monday night to deliver his keynote speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Chief among the concerns: After missing the initial shift from PCs to mobile devices, how can the company make up the ground it has lost to ARM-based competitors?

Making his first CES appearance since taking the company reins in May from Paul Otellini, Krzanich articulated an ambitious plan that extends well beyond smartphones or tablets: "Make everything smart."

A marketing catchphrase waiting to happen, the remark would have smacked of typical Silicon Valley hyperbole if not for one fact: When Intel's new boss says "everything," he evidently means it literally.

From biometric earphones that track the wearer's heart rate to a coffee mug that doubles as a baby monitor, Krzanich showed off a wide range of prototypes and reference designs, almost all of them dedicated to a single idea: If people use an object, that object will probably be more useful with an Intel chip inside. These objects still include PCs, of course, but if Intel's past was defined by servers and computers, Krzanich sees its future in wearable technology and the Internet of Things.

The demonstrations included Edison, a low-energy system-on-a-chip that's about the size of an SD card. Coming in mid-2014, Edison supports Linux, includes WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, and can link to an app store. The keynote also introduced the first Edison-powered product, called Nursery 2.0. It relies on a small device (a turtle in this case) that attaches to an infant's clothing and measures the child's temperature and heart rate. The device communicates this information to a smart coffee mug that presents a visualization of the data.

Intel's Smart Coffee Mug
Intel's Smart Coffee Mug

Krzanich's presentation also featured a smart headset that, in an ostensible nod to Iron Man, is called Jarvis. The technology worked with an Intel-designed personal assistant during the keynote but could theoretically be connected to others, such as Apple's Siri. Intel claims the device obeys natural language commands, which hypothetically means users will soon be able to speak freely to their devices, rather than relying on the combination of specific and stilted phrases that are required today.

[Pebble wants wearable tech to be a fashion statement. See Pebble Steel Gives Smartwatches A Makeover.]

Other highlights included the aforementioned earbuds, which not only track the user's fitness but can also switch to more motivational music if it senses the wearer is lagging during a workout. Intel also demonstrated a smartwatch that incorporates geo-fencing technology to pinpoint the wearer's location, and then uses this data in combination with the wearer's calendar to determine where he or she is supposed to be, and to deliver directions if he or she isn't yet at the desired location.

Intel additionally debuted a charging bowl that begins replenishing devices as soon as they're dropped inside -- no plugs required. If the users will soon carry, not only smartphones, but also a variety of wearable devices, such a low-maintenance approach to charging could be very welcome.

It remains to be seen, though, how quickly users will embrace these new devices. Wearable technology is one of the biggest emphases at this year's CES -- but enthusiasm among tradeshow exhibitors doesn't always translate to market success. Products such as Google Glass and Samsung's Galaxy Gear smartwatch are still seen as nascent experiments, rather than inevitable game-changers.

Intel Edison
Intel Edison

Krzanich said wearables aren't yet ubiquitous because current efforts are "not solving real-world problems." He said that making all devices smart will help wearable technology deliver the features people actually want and need.

In an emailed statement, Forrester analyst J.P. Gownder said he expects wearable technology to advance at CES, but he cautioned that "the supply side outstrips the buyer side, partly because [early products] lack business models." But though Gownder sees short-term stumbling blocks, he expects wearable devices will be mainstream by 2020, and that the enterprise market for such devices will eclipse the consumer market.

Whether the scenario involves consumers or employees, wearable devices will still need to pass another important test -- fashion. Many of today's devices are either ostentatiously geeky, like Google Glass, or discouragingly clunky, like most of the smartwatches available. Intel announced partnerships that seek to change this, including unions with Barneys and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Intel also announced a contest that will award $1.3 million in prizes to the inventors of particularly viable wearable concepts. The first-place winner will walk away with a cool $500,000, and the top 10 entrants will be connected to partners that can help them bring their ideas to market.

Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. Michael graduated from Stanford in 2005 and previously worked in talent representation, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher.

Too many companies treat digital and mobile strategies as pet projects. Here are four ideas to shake up your company. Also in the Digital Disruption issue of InformationWeek: Six enduring truths about selecting enterprise software. (Free registration required.)

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User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2014 | 3:16:07 PM
Re: IofT and privacy paranoia
In my mind the biggest issue with connected devices in my home (appliances, electronics, environmental and bio monitoring) isn't the fact that they are networked but rather the endpoint to which they connect.  I'd prefer some sort of standard that aggregates them to an in-home "controller" that allows me to decide what happens next.  We've long heard about pay content being behind "walled gardens".  I'd like to think my networked stuff is also inside a walled garden where I get to determine the four dubyas (who, what, where and when) regarding sharing.

The idea that every appliance, electronic and bio monitor device connecting to various cloud services which then learn about me is beyond what I'm willing to accept.  Perhaps my views are not common but I am already in a constant and relentless battle to keep the phone quiet during dinner.  It's made me skeptical whenever I share ANY information with an organization.  We need to revise our laws so that beyond the relationship of the moment (i.e. current purchase/service), no organization is allowed future use of the information they've obtained without further consent.  When I receive privacy sharing literature in the mail from various organizations it just makes me angry.  It's an incredible joke and a waste of money because they already don't share my information in ways that I can stop and the ways that they do share information I have no choice.  I cry foul.
Shane M. O'Neill
Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 2:53:26 PM
IofT and privacy paranoia
I'm conflicted. On one hand, I want to use smart tech and data to make life easier -- I want my refrigerator to alert me when the milk is about expire. But I'm also paranoid about privacy. If the NSA smartphone snooping and retail data breaches have you worried, how will you feel when half your house is connected to the Internet? Will we just get over it? One thing's for sure, the next couple decades will be a busy time in the internet security business.
User Rank: Ninja
1/7/2014 | 2:03:47 PM
Might need a wearable battery too...
Oh dear, I hope the charging bowl is quite large.  The amount of power our poor smartphones will require to keep connected to all these new toys is going to mean super fast draining times.  My smartwatch alone loves to bring my phone down in power pretty quick, so throw in headphones and other contraptions, I'm going to need a bigger battery pack.  The other option is to embed cellular connection into the devices themselves, but then you are looking at a monthly bill to keep it connected.
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 11:38:29 AM
IoT Security
Intel inside seems to have been a slogan ahead of its time. There is great danger here for IoT device makers to prey on fears with regards to baby monitoring, and there is great opportunity -- keeping an eye on elderly parents. I envision huge privacy concerns. You thought smartphone security was tricky? Let's talk hackable devices and data streams attached to your parents or kids. I hope Intel has some of its smartest seceurity minds pointed at this. Bruce Schneier argues in Wired today that IoT is "wildly insecure."
User Rank: Strategist
1/7/2014 | 11:06:46 AM
Intel Backdoors Their Products for the NSA
The US Military (the NSA) has required all Internet connected electronic device makers, like Intel, Samsung, HTC, LG, Apple, Google, Sony, HTC, Microsoft, GM, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, etc., to embed backdoor access in all their software & hardware in those products. The NSA has forced these manufacturers to violate the Patriot Act and the 4th Amendment to monitor each of us through our PC's, smart phones, OnStar Systems, tablets, xBox's, Skype, Office 365, DropBox, Carbonite, Google Drive, Laptops, iCloud, SkyDrive, cars, trucks, boats, etc.

But thanks to the heroic freedom-fighter, patriot, and whistle-blower Edward J. Snowden we now know that an army of private contractors and the US Military unlawfully monitors everyone's telephone traffic, all your contact lists, text messages, passwords, GPS locations with dates and time, FaceBook posts & pictures, LinkedIn pages & pictures, your search engine keywords entered (yes – even the keywords typed in but you don't press the enter key), all web sites visited, all your credit card numbers, all your inbound and outbound e-mail messages, your voice-print, and facial image (for facial recognition devices planted around the world used to identify your movement). They have also now installed traffic cameras in all major metro areas and on police cars that scan license plate tags and store that information in databases. Those databases are also shared with the NSA. They store all that information permanently, under your name, at the US Military's new massive Utah Data Center and can pull it up at any time in the future. They can even freely tap into the microphone and/or camera on your smart phone, tablet, laptop, PC, automobile's OnStar system, xBox and similar Internet connected devices. Rest assured – if it connects to the Internet – the US Military can tap into it and illegally monitor you.  And now we have learned they have back door access into all of RSA's encryption tools.
David F. Carr
David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 11:06:04 AM
Coffee: meet computer
The smart mug would at long last bring peace to the conflict between coffee and computers. I want one.
User Rank: Apprentice
1/7/2014 | 10:42:58 AM
Great , more devices with back door access for the NSA

You can keep it
Marilyn Cohodas
Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
1/7/2014 | 10:32:18 AM
Where's the demand for wearables?
I love to read about wearable tech and what's coming out of CES is a lot of fun. I have no doubt that some day -- probably sooner than I imagine -- I'll be plopping a handful of smart devices into a charging bowl or something similar. But will smart "things" be mainstream in six years --  by 2020? That seems realistic to me. Anybody agree? 
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