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Intel gazes into the future, unsurprisingly sees a super-connected home

Richard Easton
13 May 2015
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Intel showed off the exciting technology of tomorrow at its Future Showcase event

Intel is a company that’s involved in a lot of different technology areas beyond just the processors it’s most famous for and today we were given a glimpse at some of the exciting technology it’s working on – some we expect to see in the near future and some that was just a proof of concept.

Here are some of the most exciting pieces of technology it has up its sleeves.

Rezence Wireless Charging

Intel is part of the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP), a serious rival to the Qi wireless charging standard that we see in most smartphones today, such as most Lumias and Google Nexus devices. It will become an even stronger rival once its merger with the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) happens later this year.

Intel has been working with A4WP on Rezence wireless charging technology, which uses magnetic resonance rather than the inductive charging method of Qi. This means it’s capable of charging through a relatively thick surface, meaning greater flexibility in where you can put the charger. At the Future Showcase we saw the charger working through an inch-thick desk without a hitch. It’ll be easy to attach the charger to the bottom of a desk or table.

More importantly, Intel was showing off how Rezence can be used to charge higher draw devices such as laptops. The Rezence wireless charger was able to provide 20W at the showcase but the specifications state this could go as high as 50W. Another advantage over Qi is that a single charger can charge multiple devices and they don’t have to be as intricately lined up with the charging pad as with the Qi standard.

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Intel Home Gateway and connected home

Intel Future Showcase IOT sensor

Homes nowadays can have a dozen different systems running concurrently, from multiroom audio systems to smart thermostats and lighting to wireless security. The main problem is how disparate these systems can be. This is where Intel hopes its Home Gateway can help. Based on its Galileo development board, it provides a way to provide cross-platform automation across different systems using NFC tags that track your movement throughout the home. This means your music can seamlessly follow you around the home and lights turn on and off accordingly – all controlled from a central hub.

Intel also showed off tags designed to work with sensors placed around the home. These work within a 10m range, tracking your movement around the home using radio waves. These were demonstrated with lights that changed colour as you entered the room. One tag changed them blue, while another turned them red, meaning you could have a personalised experience based on the tag you carry. When two tags were in the proximity of a single sensor this could also trigger a different experience; at the showcase the lights were set to pulsate between the two colours.

Intel Compute Stick

Intel Future Showcase Compute Stick

Intel’s computer on a stick will finally be making its way to the UK. The diminutive device plugs into a display through HDMI and is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom processor with 2GB of RAM and 32GB of onboard storage. Not bad for a device barely bigger than a Google Chromecast. There’s Bluetooth connectivity for much-needed peripherals such as a wireless keyboard and mouse.

Smart Clip

It’s an unfortunate fact but every year dozens of babies and toddlers die each year after being left inside cars. An Intel engineer designed a prototype Bluetooth connected clip that can be used with a car seat, alerting parents if they forget their baby in the car as well as giving useful information via an app such as temperature and whether the car is moving. It’s not a product the company plans to release itself but it acts as a proof of concept for others and could be a genuine life-saver.

Self-navigating drones

Intel Future Showcase drone

Intel partnered with ASCTEC to partner a Firefly drone with RealSense depth perception technology. By mounting RealSense cameras to the top of the drone, the drone is able to self-navigate. In a video we saw the Firefly navigate its way through a dense forest, successfully avoiding trees and showing off some impressive manoeuvring.

Intel RealSense

Intel Future Showcase 3DMe

That’s not all we saw of RealSense. We also had the chance to be scanned using RealSense 3D cameras as well as play around with a 3DMe demo that used the cameras to make a computer avatar mimic and replicate your movements. It was surreal to look at ourselves as a troll that copied our facial expressions. RealSense is making its way to tablets, smartphones and all-in-one PCs. We’ve already seen it with the Dell Venue 8 7840 and HP Sprout, but expect to see it even more in the future.

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