My wish, your command
GADGETS The next step in computing is to make robots that know how to take orders, writes Rod Chester
Intel has always focused on making computers smarter and smaller. The next step is to make machines more human.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich says computers are becoming more personalised.
“Computing is everywhere,” Krzanich says. “It’s everywhere in our lives today. It’s in our bags, our clothes, our homes, our cars. In just about everything we do, computing is there with us.
“Computing used to be confined to really a twodimensional world. That’s not enough in today’s world. We want our devices to become more like humans. Talking to a device should feel more like a conversation.”
With the “sensification” of computers as a target, Krzanich used the keynote address at last week’s Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco to deliver what he calls the three assumptions about the future of computing: as computing becomes ultra personal, you want that device to have sight, sound and touch; everything can become smart and connected in the Internet of Things; and as computers become an extension of the user, the physical environment comes alive through the power of wearable devices.
In terms of a formula for the future, analysts agree with his vision but say it’s not a prediction unique to the iconic chip maker.
Jan Dawson, chief analyst of Jackdaw Research, describes them as “a mix of obvious and vague. There’s nothing there that feels too controversial, but it’s all also a bit open-ended.”
Research chief at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech Carolina Milanesi agrees with the outline, but adds a qualifier.
“I know it is subtle but I say computing instead of computers as I believe that the experience will come from different devices working together — phone, wearables, connected devices and so on,” Milanesi says. “Sensing and acting for the user to provide value add to them is what the combination of these three principles will give you.”
In order to give computers that human edge, Intel unveiled a few examples where its An Intel Edison BodySuit has
a sensor that captures the speed and frequency of the wearer's breath, and converts
into data as a series of animations that light up the Intel blue section of the suit. RealSense camera is bringing an extra element to technology.
In one case, the 3D mapping ability of RealSense is enabling Savioke’s robotic butler to navigate through a hotel to deliver room service. In another, a smart Memomi change-room mirror can show different colours in the clothes you’re wearing to save you the hassle of changing.
But as computers become more personal, Intel Security Group senior vice-president Christopher Young warns there are “increased risks” and the need to ensure the security in the age of “the industrialisation of hacking”.
“We’ve gone from a world from where high school kids were trying to write viruses and worms to a world where we now have cyber criminals in organised crime and you have nation states getting involved in this,” Young says.
Young gave the example of a smart car system that would be able to tell you about your teenager’s bad driving habits but not report on your own to your insurance company.
Such a system would need to understand discretion.
And a human trait like that is a big challenge. Rod Chester travelled to San Francisco as a guest of Intel