Intel is building out an ecosystem of wirelessly connected devices intended to enhance all facets of life, one that includes robots that deliver drinks to hotel guests, smartwatches, gesture-controlled vending machines, and mirrors that display outfits in different colors.
At its developers conference in San Francisco on Tuesday, Intel previewed a slew of consumer products that exemplify its approach to the so-called Internet of Things. The company doesn't necessarily want to build those things itself, but it does want to make the chips that power them.
"We have a vision for how technology will evolve, but it is not complete without you," CEO Brian Krzanich told the audience of developers. "Because you are the ones who actually bring all this technology to life. You build the products, you bring them to the customers. ... Computing is everywhere in our lives today. It's in our bags, our clothes, our homes, our cars."
It's also in our bikes. Onstage Tuesday, Intel announced plans to bring its new low-power Curie to select developers this year and showed off a number of prototype products using it. Among them were a BMX bike whose handlebars record turns and spins and a security bracelet that locks your computer when you walk away from it.
Those gadgets are likely the first of many more to come, given Intel's recent acquisitions and partnerships in the wearables space. In June, Intel bought Recon, a Canadian company that makes high-tech eyewear for serious athletes. Last year, it acquired Basis Science, a startup that develops wrist-worn activity trackers; it also entered a multiyear collaboration with Luxottica Group, the world's biggest eyewear company, with brands like Ray-Ban and Oakley.
Intel also showed off a small, lightweight camera that senses and responds to natural movement in three dimensions, making it an ideal tool for virtual reality gaming. Developed in partnership with the gaming product company Razer, the camera is powered by Intel's RealSense depth-sensing technology platform.
RealSense has other applications as well. Nieman Marcus is using it to power digital mirrors that show shoppers how their outfits look in different colors. And Savioke has incorporated it into its Relay robot, which delivered a Diet Coke to Krzanich onstage and is expected to do the same for some hotel guests next year. RealSense is also headed to 5,000 smart vending machines that will let people make purchases simply through gestures.
Intel said it's opening up RealSense to more developers on different platforms, like Mac OS X and Linux, in addition to Windows and Android. So all kinds of yet-to-be-imagined products are on their way.
Robotic spiders with RealSense "eyes," for example. Dozens of them dancing to "Uptown Funk."
Look familiar? These are the same spiders that inspired Jimmy Fallon to remark, “The end of the world is going to be fun.”
Want to make a spider, or something else, of your own? Intel is teaming up with United Artists Music Group on a new reality show, America's Greatest Makers, which will reward the top idea with $1 million. It'll hit the airwaves in 2016, Intel said.
Stephanie Lee is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
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