Close on the heels of IDF 2012, Intel hosted a little get together for select media houses in our nations capital, highlighting some of the new advancements in the world of personal computing as well as Intel’s vision for an emerging market such as ours. The PC continues to be the dominant medium through which people access the Internet globally and according to Intel’s 2012 survey, around 83 percent of users in India still access the web through a PC. But just like other technology products, it has evolved over the years. It’s no longer a beige box, sitting in the corner of your room, that requires a lot of power to operate. Smartphones and tablet PCs are the future of personal computing and it’s emerging markets such as India, Russia, China, etc. that show a much higher demand for tablets and smartphones as compared to traditional desktop computers. This is where Intel plans to catch the wave and try and develop a much stronger ecosystem, not only for their wide range of products but also on the software development front.
Some of the current Ultrabooks on the shelves
One of the interesting segments in the meetup was the future of the notebook PC or the next-gen Ultrabooks. We’ve already covered quite a bit of the new age Ultrabooks with touch in our IDF 2012 coverage and Intel strongly believes that this is the next step in the evolution of the notebook PC. The new wave of notebooks hitting shelves in October will feature a host of new functions that will soon be commonplace. The top three features will be Voice, Touch and Gesture. Sanjay Vora, General Manager – Strategic Planning, talked about Intel’s vision for the future of personal computing. One of the reasons why Intel is pushing hard for touch-enabled notebooks, and also encouraging OEMs to do so, is that users tend prefer a touch based notebook as compared to a standard one. This is based on a study conducted by Intel that showed users preferred a touch-enabled notebook (with Windows 8) roughly 80 percent of the time. Touch based notebooks will not be restricted to a small screen size, as Intell will also be focusing on 13-inch notebooks and above. By preemptively creating a huge supply of touch-friendly notebooks from various OEMs, these notebooks need not carry a very high price tag once they actually hit retail, at least that’s the plan. Voice gestures will also be a big part of the new line of Ultrabooks. Intel has partnered with Nuance to integrate its Dragon Assistant speech recognition software into these notebooks. We should be seeing notebooks with this feature sometime next year. Wireless charging will also be the next big thing to hit Ultrabooks and All In Ones (AIO). For this, Intel has partnered with companies like BYO, IDT, Compal, etc. to incorporate induction charging for phones, tablets, etc. via your notebook. Soon, we can also expect to see wireless keyboards and mice that can be charged wirelessly when placed near the PC so you never have to worry about swapping out batteries or charging it via a cable.
Make way for Ultrabook Convertibles
After Ultrabooks, the next focus is on tablets. As of now, tablets have been mostly used for content consumption whereas creation is still left up to the notebook. Microsoft’s Surface is one example that blurs the line between a tablet and a notebook. Intel is kick starting a new segment which it now calls ‘Ultrabook Convertible’. Basically, all your hybrid PCs fall into this segment. We’ve already seen a wide variety of them from Asus, Dell, etc. with dual screens, rotating screens, slide-out screens and flip screens. The idea is simple, give users the full processing power and creation tools of a regular notebook and also provide a tablet experience when all they want to do is consume information. This same theory will now apply to future AIOs as well. No longer will you have to reach out and touch the screen; you’ll actually be able to detach the screen completely from the stand and use it like a tablet on the table. Intel calls this ‘Adaptive AIO’. Expect to see AIOs as large as 27-inches with this functionality. How practical this really is will again depend on your usage needs.
New features will be standard across future Ultrabooks
On the CPU front, the Ultrabook convertibles will be powered by a new product line in 2013, designed to offer good battery life as well as high performance. The new chips will be based on the new ‘Haswell’ microarchitecture along with a 10W power rating, specially designed for Ultrabook Convertibles. The new chips will also be able to take better advantage of Intel’s Perceptual Computing technology that makes use of gestures and other sensors for a more intuitive computing experience.
The 'Mote' senses the presense of a vehicle
Finally, we also had a little glimpse into the development community in India. Narendra Bhandari, Director or Software and Services Group, spoke about Intel’s contributions to the development community. Intel’s Software Partner Program helps plenty of startups, students and developers realise their vision by providing them with with either software or hardware expertise. A couple of the startups were present at the event and showcased some very interesting concepts. One of them was a Wireless Sensor Based Smart Parking System. This system monitors the availability of a free parking slot using ‘motes’ embedded in the ground. These then relay information to a central station that updates the status of the parking slot. When put into action, the driver will just have to enter his mobile number through an app or the kiosk before entering the parking lot and will receive a message about which slot is free. Later on, when he pulls out of the lot, he’ll get an SMS for the amount to be paid based on how long the vehicle was parked. This can then be paid directly via phone banking. The whole system essentially eliminates the need of parking attendants as the entire process is automated.
There seems to be a lot of exciting stuff heading our way both on the hardware as well as software front and hopefully, in the months to come, we'll be able to better experience this first hand.