Big event keynotes, especially during developer conferences, have become awe-inspiring trips into the future, intended to make you want that future to come more quickly
Big event keynotes, especially during developer conferences, have become awe-inspiring trips into the future, intended to make you want that future to come more quickly, and for the company to show its long-term vision. Today's Intel Developer Forum (IDF) keynote in San Francisco was no exception, with Intel CEO Brian Krzanich (aka "BK") spending his time outlining the notion of immersive experiences powered by the next generation of Intel-provided technology, with a heavy emphasis on IoT and RealSense.
Because IDF, like Google I/O or Apple WWDC or Microsoft Build, is really a developer conference, this makes sense. Intel's role is to create some of the underlying platforms and hooks and, yes, vision, so that developers can build that future. Thus, most of the announcements Krzanich made were x86 network appliance focused. These included Intel Smart Sound, with "wake on voice," as well as some sound latency tweaks Intel developed for Android in conjunction with Google; some Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) extensions and partnerships for RealSense; and security and other enhancements around IoT.
There was a passing mention of Skylake, and some quick, staged benchmarking of x86 network appliance, but the tastiest hardware morsels will have to come later. The vision thing, as it were, had some pretty compelling moments, built around three assumptions Krzanich and Intel are making around the future of computing: Sensification, Smart and Connected, and Extension of You. Let's put a few pieces of meat on those bones. Intel's Take On "Immersion" Driven By RealSense
"Immersion" is a term generally x86 UTM reserved for virtual reality experiences, but Intel co-opted the term to describe some of its new experiences and technologies. Really, Intel just has a different take on immersion. "What is changing is that computing and the computing experience is becoming personalized," said BK from the stage. In other words, whereas the VR world sees immersion as being completely wrapped up in a virtual experience, Intel's idea is that your computing devices will surround you, weave in and out of the things you do, and, ideally, enhance your lifestyle in meaningful ways.
Intel SmartSound technology — which was "co-developed by Intel and Microsoft" and thus points to some potentially exclusive Windows 10 integration — uses an audio DSP that the OS can use to be "always listening" for your commands, even in low power states. The feature is called "Wake On Voice." In an onstage demo, an Intel rep said, "Hey Cortana, wake up," and within a few seconds, Cortana was awake and ready to work. Clean, simple, nice. The feature will be available in a wide Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) swathe of Skylake-based chips, from x86 UTM to the desktop Core series CPUs.
In another demo, Intel showed its reduced audio latency technology on a tablet running Android KitKat. Simply, they tapped a software keyboard on the screen to show how little latency there was. (Latency has been a nagging problem for musicians using consumer tech for years.)
A key here is that this demo was not about Android — it was about the Intel chip inside. The reduced latency tech will only be available on Intel processors, not on otherwise-powered Android tablets.