Intel Seeks to Button Up Tiny Technology

Written by Max Filipsson

If the theme of CES 2016 was the Internet of Things, Intel defined things as people.

The 2016 Keynote speaker and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich showcased the capabilities of the Intel Curie computer with color and flair. Krzanich showed its applications in everything from sports to arts to everyday life.

“At Intel it is our mission to improve the lives of everyone on the planet through their interaction with technology,” Krzanich said.

The Intel Curie computer is the size of a button, and Krzanich said it will launch with a price tag of roughly $10. Its main selling point is the range of onboard sensors which include a six-axis, a gyroscope and an accelerometer. The computer comes with Bluetooth connectivity, and the ability to feed data directly from a range of sensors was explored in great depth.

Krzanich outlined three trends that he believed drove modern tech innovation. The first is the “smart and connected world” that is pushed strongly in the Internet of Things. The second is the “sensifictation of computing” taking place through virtual reality and related technology. The third is “making the computer an extension of ourselves.” The trends naturally evolve from one to the other and show the guiding principle for the work Intel presented at its keynote.

Curie computers were the stars of the show. Intel proudly showed off how Curie enables art, a partnership with ESPN to bring Curie to all X Games Aspen events and an endorsement by three-time Iron Man world champion Craig Alexander who integrated Curie into his training regime.

“You can see how we have enhanced almost any experience you can imagine,” Krzanich said.

The art was a large part of the keynote. Curie enabled VR painting, gesture-controlled music and fashion reponsive to the wearer’s body.

“Technology truly unleashes the creativity inside of us, allowing us to truly feel human,” Krzanich said after showing off the ways Curie enables art.

Shantell Marie demonstrated VR painting to the audience in a live demonstration where she drew a piece of art using two hand-held tools and a VR headset, combining a virtual art installation with more standard visual art.

A.R. Rahman, highly decorated musician and honorary doctor of Berklee College of Music, displayed how he used the Curie to create almost a new instrument. It was reminiscent of a theremin, if the theremin was a white strap in each hand.

Becca McCharen, founder of Chromat, showed off two articles of clothing, one dress and a sports bra. The clothes adapted to bio-feedback read by Curie computers embedded into the clothes to allow them to change shape and structure.

Krzanich said he wanted to change people’s lives through their interaction with technology and how technology allows us to feel human. This theme extended to more than a person’s personal life and to what Intel was doing to make the world a better place for people to live in.

Krzanich made pledges during his previous two Intel keynote addresses at CES. One was to have full representation for women and minorities in the American Intel workforce by 2020. The other was to make all Intel products free from so-called conflict minerals — minerals mined by and sold for the profit of warlords — by 2016. Krzanich was proud to announce that Intel was on track to achieve both goals.

Almost in celebration of the promise of a connected future and a better world, the keynote ended with Rahman performing a new song with a multinational band with every musician using Curie devices. Including a keytar.

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