Editor's Note: A few days before traveling to Taipei, Taiwan, where he is slated to deliver a keynote address at Computex 2011, Intel Free Press had a chance to sit down for a brief conversation with Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney, the newly named chairman of Intel China. Maloney returned to work in January after suffering a stroke last year. The following is a transcript taken from the video interview.

 

 

IFP: First of all, how are you feeling and how does it feel to be back at work and in the middle of everything?

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Intel Executive Vice President Sean Maloney is moving to China to head-up the company's efforts there as Chairman of Intel China.

 

Maloney: It feels great. Physically I'm almost completely recovered. And my speech continues to improve. It's better than when I started in January and it will be better again all through the course of this year.

 

IFP: You've had a long and successful relationship with the technology community in Taiwan. How does it feel to be coming back and keynoting at Computex during this interesting time when everything is changing and the dynamics of the traditional PC industry are changing?

 

Maloney: It's an honor. I've done this keynote for years and not doing it last year killed me. The change that you mentioned is a good thing, and our partners in Taiwan are embracing it.

 

IFP: Are you worried that Intel will be seen as trying to resuscitate the PC at a time when conventional wisdom says that the PC is declining?

 

Maloney: Well, we don't see it that way. Clearly the PC this year is doing really well, but the PC still has room to grow and we need to kick start that.

 

IFP: How do you challenge the critics who are saying that some of this is too little, too late -- that the ARM ecosystem is too firmly established now, particularly in tablets and phones?

 

Maloney: The ARM ecosystem is really well established, but I don't think that anyone is in the position that Intel is in to get all the way from the bottom to the top. In process technology, we are still 2 years or more in front. I think it will be a good 4 or 5 years.

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IFP: Intel has talked a lot about accelerating the SoC (System-on-a-Chip) roadmap, which according to some pundits can't happen fast enough. Why is it taking so long for the company to accelerate Atom SoCs and is there anything you can do to make it go faster?

 

Maloney: Well, unfortunately 2 years ago we thought that the market was not moving as fast as it has moved. Now we've announced that we will be doing one new process generation every year for the next 3 or 4 years. That's pretty fast. It's a big acceleration from where we are now.

 

IFP: Intel CEO and President Paul Otellini mentioned during the recent investors meeting that China is poised to be No. 1 in the PC market next year. What does that mean for Intel?

 

Maloney: It means everything, right? The U.S. was the first and foremost market for 43 years at Intel. Now it's going to be China, No. 1. That's amazing. Really, I am excited about China. It's the first market for Intel next year. There are so many things we can do in China, and we're going to do them.

Ladies and gentleman, start your engines. But first turn on your computers!

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iRacing.com is officially sanctioned by Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and virtual race finals will be livestreamed online and on Jumbo Tron screens prior to the real life Indy 500 race.

 

This weekend, millions of auto racing fans will scream from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway stands, in front of their TVs and from behind the steering wheels of their virtual Dallaras inside a massively multiplayer game called "iRacing."

 

As the world's top IndyCar drivers compete in qualifying rounds in Indianapolis, members of "iRacing' are participating in this year's centennial Indy 500 race by turning on their home computers and racing in qualifying heats against other iRacers competing online in the 2nd Annual iRacing.com Indy 500.

 

"It's the closest most people will get to driving on the real track," said iRacing marketing manager Otto Szebeni.

 

Sanctioned by the Indy 500 and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Szebeni said "iRacing" will bring together about 1,400 avid racing fans, nearly twice as many as last year, from more than 100 countries. He pointed out that thanks to the Internet, more people raced in the virtual Indy 500 last year than have raced in all of the real-life Indianapolis 500s since 1909.

 

Today, auto racing fans and real-life professional drivers are stepping into the virtual world of simulated racing, and are able to experience the world's best racetracks in a virtual world that Szebeni claims is within two millimeters of the real track.

 

"Racers feel the excitement of really racing on the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway," he said. "iRacing.com members can feel the rubber gripping every curve and the acceleration on every straightaway. You can even feel bumps in the road that are actually on the Indy 500 track," he said.

 

Szebeni said "iRacing's" virtual racetracks are modeled after real racetracks using hordes of data collected from laser scans, not GPS like many other auto racing games. He said his team spent over a week scanning the 2 ½-mile oval track at Indianapolis.

 

"It's an expensive, laborious task, but authenticity is what it's all about, all based on real world data," said Szebeni.

 

A motorized orb with a laser inside is fastened atop of tripod, which the iRacing.com engineers moved up and down the race track, collecting millions and millions of points to create what Szebeni calls a "Point Cloud." The laser orb scans 360 degrees, then is moved ahead a few feet and scans again, capturing the racing surface and surrounding area. Digital artists map texture onto the point cloud using photos and graphics.

 

"This is not an artist's rendition but a real digital replication of the race track," said Szebeni. "That is what we do, and same goes for the cars, which are all modeled from officially sanctioned CAD data, and some cars are even designed from laser scans."

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iRacing.com uses a precision Leica laser scanning device to capture raw data to model its virtual racetracks after real world racetrack within a millimeter of accuracy.

 

According to Szebeni," iRacing" is a new dimension for races like the Indy 500, which is working hard to energize the existing fan-base and help create new IndyCar racing enthusiasts.

 

"'iRacing' is so immersive and intense that sometimes I step out of my driving chair sweating from the death-grip determination I put into the race," said Don Bowden, an Intel technology demonstration engineer who has helped Intel sponsor many "iRacing" competitions, including the Indy 500.

 

Anyone at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend can sit behind the wheel of an iRacering.com chassis and take a virtual spin around the Indy 500 track. Szebeni said that some fans will get the chance to race next to Justin Wilson, Scott Speed and other IndyCar drivers.

 

 

Bowden is in charge of building 10 computers at the legendary speedway. "The computers are built with the latest Intel Core i7 Extreme Edition processor, great graphics from the 6970 ATI GPU and some really fast Intel SSD drives," said Bowden. Each computer will be controlled by a simulated IndyCar chassis, including a steering wheel, gear shifters, and gas, brake and clutch pedals.

 

iRacing.com members have been competing online for weeks leading up to the real Indy 500 in hopes of winning cash, prizes and bragging rights. Multiple splits with multiple races occur simultaneously, where 33 cars race 200 laps around the course. The ability to handle realistic racing for hundreds, even thousands of people simultaneously comes from iRacing.com server farms based in Boston and Australia.

 

There will be two different iRacing.com Indy 500 finals, one for the rookie and less skilled racers, and one for the C and higher-ranked racers. Each race will have 33 cars and, in theory, everyone will race similarly skilled drivers, according to Szebeni.

 

iRacing.com Indy 500 finals will be live-streamed on iRacing.com and PSRTV.com, and on large jumbo-tron screens in and around the speedway. Selected fans taking part in the pre-race festivities also will compete against Indy 500 drivers in an iRacing.com sprint race, with prizes including race day packages to the big race on May 31.

 

After the Indy 500, PC-based drivers can look forward to the release of iRacing 2.0, which will feature even more realistic tire performance and other features, according to Szebeni.

 

A life-long race fan from the Boston area, Szebeni said he believes iRacing will continue to catch on and benefit the world of auto racing.

 

"We're at the very beginning of this," he said. "There are really two big sports in the world, soccer and motor sports. Unlike soccer, where anyone can just go and play a game, most people can't really experience what it's like to race on a real track."

 

 

Intel's demo guy and auto-racing aficionado Don Bowden demonstrates the immersive Indy racing experience on iRacing.com.
A "Virtual Indy 500" will feature fans across the world racing in a full-length Indianapolis 500 on the PC simulation seen here.

It's "A Bug's Life" meets "WALL-E," except this other-worldly creation is no product of Pixar Animation. It's the real deal. This six-legged robot is fully equipped with Artificial Intelligence, it can crawl creepily like a spider on its own, or bust into syncopated flamenco dance moves.

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This hexapod replica, built by Matt Bunting for Intel, uses computer vision and machine learning to figure out its next moves.

 

It even has a tantalized Twitter following @hexapod, where fans can track its whereabouts.

 

With 21 motors and a Web camera for an eye, this skateboard-sized robot is fast moving and fully aware of its surroundings. Which gives many people the heebie-jeebies at first sight, according to creator Matt Bunting. Especially for anyone who is afraid of spiders. Aside from arachnophobes, Bunting said the hexapod is a real attention-grabber that often peaks people's curiosity.

 

"When people first see the hexapod, their instinct is to just wave their hand at it, but it can't recognize waving," said Bunting, adding that it can quickly find and track faces.

 

"It's very cool to see a little kid walk up and stick his face into the hexapod, said Bunting, raising his eyebrows. "The hexapod looks right back and follows along as the kid moves a little bit to the right or left. It's a very chilling, unearthly feeling to have this creepy looking robot follow your own movements."

 

"Creepy and cute and the same time," he added.

 

Bunting tinkered around using very inexpensive parts to build his first hexapod when he was in high school. A few years later, in 2009, he evolved his earlier ideas into a fully functioning hexapod while in a cognitive robotics class during his undergraduate studies at the University of Arizona.

 

"I liked the idea of having a machine being able to learn," said Bunting. "So I built a hexapod that was much more capable than the first one I built in high school. I didn't want to pre-program it with algorithms, so I didn't use inverse kinematics and force all of the legs to move in the way that I wanted them to, but instead I used this reinforcement learning technique called cue-learning. With cue learning the hexapod was able to experiment in the world and figure out an optimal way to walk."

 

After the hexapod could walk, Bunting used a Playstation 3 game controller that he hacked and made the robot dance for a video he posted on YouTube.

 

Since then, Bunting's work has captured the attention of technology companies, including Intel and HRL Laboratories, his current employer and graduate school sponsor. His hexapod currently graces the cover of the June edition of Linux Journal, and the electronics and engineering industry publication, EETimes, just honored Bunting with a prestigious ACE Award, naming him this year's Top Student "whose discipline, hard work and academic success are considered hallmarks for other engineering or science students."

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After building his first hexapod in high school, Matt Bunting reinvented his robot design as an undergraduate at the University of Arizona, where he's now pursuing a PhD. in Electrical and Computer Engineering and working on DARPA's "Cheetah Project."

 

Two days after Bunting posted his first video on YouTube, back in 2009, he was contacted by Stewart Christie from Intel's embedded and communications group. Christie's job is to find the next generation of developers, and sometimes that means meeting robot builders in their gear-cluttered garages or taking requests for equipment or project sponsorship on his team's website.

 

Christie calls Bunting "a real modern-day Da Vinci," pointing out that Bunting even created the Spanish guitar music that compels his spider robot to dance, as seen in the YouTube video.

 

"My job is to look for hobbyists, hackers and future customers who are working on cool projects and who might not be aware that they can build on Intel architecture," he said.

 

"When Intel first contacted me I was a little bit shocked," said Bunting. "I didn't believe it at first … because you don't normally think this kind of thing is going to happen to you … that somebody would recognize you for the work that you do."

 

Soon after, the hexapod began to multiply as Bunting worked to meet Intel's request for two replicas.

 

"With the help of Intel, I really worked hard to make it look the way I always wanted it to look, said Bunting. "I created an even better machine-learning technique, which involved an artificial neural network, and I used a generic algorithm to tune all of the weights."

 

Bunting refers to his works as "biologically influenced robotics," in which he combines the ability to see, learn and respond with movements.

 

Early on, Bunting said he wanted all of the processing to be done onboard, controlling all of the 21 motors, and processing vision with advanced machine learning techniques. Each of the six legs would be powered by three servos, or smart motors, and three more would control the camera.

 

"I needed something that was very powerful," he said. "I also wanted something that would eventually run on batteries, so it needed to be powerful and computationally efficient at the same time. Fortunately, CompuLab came out with the Fit PC right around that time, so I ordered one of those and it has an onboard Intel Atom processor (running at 1.6 GHz). It could handle vision processing seamlessly along with all of the kinematic equations to operate all of the motors."

 

Bunting used OpenCV, or Open Computer Vision, which is a library of free software for real-time computer vision.

 

"I've implemented a few vision computing techniques such as object recognition,"" said Bunting. "There's face tracking onboard, so the hexapod can find your face and actually follow it around. For the machine learning, like the reinforcement techniques that I implemented, vision was used to measure the optic flow. Using the optic flow, it's able to take two successive images and figure out how the objects are moving around in the world. The hexapod could tell if a person's head has tilted, moved forward, up or down and that was all critical for machine learning."

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Matt Bunting has been described as a "real modern day Da Vinci"

Currently a graduate student at the University of Arizona, Bunting spends much of his time coding and tweaking his creations inside the windowless Robotics and Neural Systems' lab led by UofA Professor Tony Lewis. Inspired at a young age, and even today, by building Lego models and mathematics, Bunting has evolved into a valuable asset for the Tucson school's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, even helping to attract new students and big-time research projects like DARPA's "Cheetah."

 

According to Bunting, his team will collaborate with other researchers in a competition to create a four-legged robot that could eventually lead to a two-legged robot able to run faster than any robot today. Proof of his team's prototype rests in his iPhone in the form of a photo showing robotic hind legs of a small cheetah.

 

"If we scale it up, I think we can actually achieve 70 mph," Bunting recently told Arizona Engineer, a publication of the university's College of Engineering.

 

Bunting said his hexapods are coming in handy as he focuses more time on DARPA's Cheetah project. He said he's extending the "machine learning" that he built into the six-legged robot, and refining the 3-D printer techniques he used to fabricate the light, hard plastic skeleton and legs of the hexapod.

 

In addition to the hexapod he has inside his lab, Bunting keeps in touch with his other hexapods through Twitter, where Intel's Christie shares the robots' whereabouts like elementary school science class visits, technology tradeshows, media events such as the recent Tech Heaven in New York, and competitions like Robocup in Rome.

 

Christie said that someday a robot like this could be programmed to interpret facial gestures and human expressions, which could make it useful in such places as school and hospitals.

 

"This hexapod is surprisingly easy to command using a Bluetooth game controller," said Christie. "I can hand the controller to anyone, and they're off and running, especially kids who are used to playing with the Playstation."

 

The collaboration continues. "Now I'm encouraging Matt to train the hexapod to post photos to its Twitter account so people can see what the robot sees when it's in action at an event," said Christie.

 

Christie also pointed out that several other teams have developed ancillary projects, using the same Atom-based hardware that Bunting used, including a 10-foot wingspan autonomous aircraft and an underwater robot.

 

"They all cited Matt's success as the reason for choosing the Atom processor," Christie said.

 

 

 

Keyboards, printers, joysticks – sure. But toy missile launchers, disco balls and thumb drives that look like thumbs?

 

When a small team of Intel engineers developed the Universal Serial Bus with a half-dozen other companies in 1994, the objective was to create a low-cost plug-and-play interface to connect computers to peripheral devices. In the early days USB products were sold primarily at computer and office supply stores. Today, they're as universal as the serial bus itself.

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A small, portable desk aquarium powered by a USB connection is just one of many creative ways USB technology is being used to power everything from foam missile launchers to thumb drives that look like human thumbs.

 

That's how fast and broadly USB-equipped devices have taken off – to the point where today over 10 billion exist in the world, according to market research firm In-Stat. No one is more surprised by the explosion than Ajay Bhatt, the Intel computer architect who co-invented the standard.

 

"Originally when we did this it was to replace connectors for simple stuff like scanners, keyboards and mice," Bhatt said. "We didn't know it would be around this long, this popular and lead to such a wide variety of products."

 

Bhatt said he uses his own technology every day, but keeps to the more mundane computer peripherals and consumer electronics. So simple are his needs that the man doesn't even own a USB missile launcher complete with foam missiles to attack a neighboring cubical at his Hillsboro, Ore. workplace. And as for those popular beverage warmers, Bhatt literally doesn't make the connection.

 

"Don't have one. I'd rather get fresh coffee," he said.

 

It's not as if Bhatt hasn't had opportunities to get his hands on one. Mug warmers are among the countless USB products out there.

 

Trade Shows a USB Bonanza

Industry trade shows are also a hotbed for USB goods be they relevant or not. But for every USB record turntable, USB heated slippers and USB desk aquarium, there are billions of more practical accessories being happily and shamelessly snatched off exhibitor booth shelves. This common trade show practice might not bring in new business for the gift-giving exhibitor, but it does keep such companies as Robertson Marketing in business and on the forefront of trends.

 

"There are fads out there like the USB cup warmer, rocket launchers, a dog that moves, and they're all cute conversation starters," said Tom Robertson, president of the Virginia-based promotional merchandise distributor. "But in business settings, more professional and usable items like flash drives, hubs and mice are more widely purchased – things you can take on the go and are more widely used."

 

By far, USB flash drives make up the bulk of Robertson's trade show tchotchke business. What finds this market segment trumping all its USB cousins is its versatile functionality and innovative shapes and designs.

 

USB drives can cater to a specific event or purpose, such as resembling an army dog tag for a military-themed marketing campaign. Novelty flash drives handed out at industry shows have taken the shape of a chicken leg (poultry), syringe (nursing), golf ball (sporting goods), designer purse (fashion) and sushi (restaurant). Given out at the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons Annual Meeting was, of course, a thumb drive that looks like a human thumb.

 

The cool factor is important in the world of promotional flash drives, but when it comes to actual use it's all about capacity. A 1-gigabyte flash drive is somewhat obsolete nowadays; the majority of orders are for sticks between 2Gb and 4Gb, according to Robertson.

 

After flash drives, the most popular USB promotional items are desktop-driven products such as hubs, mice and digital photo frames, according to Alex Symms, Southeast regional sales manager for KTI Promo, a Houston-based supplier of high-tech promotional items. Next popular is the music category led by USB mini-speakers and travel speakers, followed by USB chargers for mobile devices, iPods and cell phones. Somehow the USB hamster wheel didn't make the list of best-sellers, but you've got to love its slogan: "The faster you type the faster he runs!"

 

Staying on the Bus

So what does the future hold? As consumers demand newfangled products that capitalize on established USB technology in all its wired and unwired flavors, the advent of SuperSpeed USB, or USB 3.0, seems to be the talk of the promotional merchandise industry.

 

"The foundation of USB technology was version 1.0, then on to 2.0, and now there's a mass push to USB 3.0," said Robertson about the latest version that is 10 times faster than USB 2.0. "This gives you the ability to download entire HD movies or entire hard drives of information in a very short amount of time."

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Hot feet? Steve Whalley, USB co-inventor and Intel technology initiatives manager says that, "While we predicted the usual suspects such as keyboards, mice, printers, scanners and other traditional PC peripherals moving to USB, I'm glad to see how the world innovated around a common interface to build a plethora of new usages and novel inventions, wacky or otherwise."

 

"Who wouldn't like to be able to transfer a 25GB HD movie from a portable USB device to a PC in just 70 seconds with USB 3.0 versus the 14 minutes it takes today using USB 2.0?" USB Implementers Forum President Jeff Ravencraft asked, rhetorically.

 

"About 60 percent of our USB business is flash drives, and as 3.0 comes to the forefront, you could actually see this percentage increase as more peripherals and hardware take advantage of this blazing difference in the speed of read/write," Robertson said. "It's getting a lot of buzz."

 

Whether the world needs an even faster USB hamster wheel remains to be seen. (Not to fear, animal lovers -- it's a mechanical rodent.) But as the broadened range of USB speeds spawns new and improved products, be they uncanny or conventional their origins date back to when detaching a Windows 95-compatible keyboard from a PC, replacing it with another device, then plugging it back in without the need to reboot the PC made news at Comdex.

 

"It's amazing to have been part of a technology that has shipped billions of devices – most of them not too wacky, but actually very useful and hard to live without today," said Steve Whalley, USB co-inventor and Intel technology initiatives manager. "While we predicted the usual suspects such as keyboards, mice, printers, scanners and other traditional PC peripherals moving to USB, I'm glad to see how the world innovated around a common interface to build a plethora of new usages and novel inventions, wacky or otherwise."

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The good news out of a new study from Weill Cornell Medical College is American teenagers are spending more time behind their computer desks than a video game console. The bad news is these teens are not only liquored up, but their increased tech time is spent more on recreational use than school work. According to researchers at Cornell University's medical school in New York City, teens who drink alcohol spend more time on their computers for social networking and downloading and listening to music, compared with their peers who don't drink. Results of an anonymous survey of 264 teenagers ages 13 to 17 were reported in the online edition of the journal Addictive Behaviors in a study authored by Dr. Jennifer Epstein, a public health researcher at the college. She said that while the specific factors linking teenage drinking and computer use are not yet established, "it seems likely that adolescents are experimenting with drinking and activities on the Internet." In turn, exposure to online material such as alcohol advertising or alcohol-using peers on social networking sites could reinforce teens' drinking, according to Epstein, adding that "children are being exposed to computers and the Internet at younger ages." "For this reason," she said, "it's important that parents are actively involved in monitoring their children's computer usage, as well as alcohol use."

PORTLAND, Ore.—There were more 1,000 of them from all over the world; Intel researchers and scientists chatting and sharing knowledge and information about transistors, systems, software, validation, voltage, augmented reality, power—and perhaps most importantly, new user experiences.

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Some of Intel's best and brightest—principal engineers, senior principal engineers, Fellows and Senior Fellows—met for three days last week at Intel's first-ever "TechFest" to discuss and debate critical technical challenges that require an "exponential change" in thinking, as Intel Vice President Dadi Perlmutter put it in one of the keynote addresses during the confab in Portland, Ore. The private invite-only event was hosted not far from Intel's sprawling Hillsboro, Ore. campuses including the company's main Silicon research and development facility recently visited by President Barak Obama.

 

Intel's new Director of Creative Innovation will.i.am even attended and mingled with the crowd as did Chief Technology Officer and Senior Fellow Justin Rattner who keynoted.

 

While Intel researchers tend to focus on narrow topics (even atoms on a particular section of the transistor), Rattner said he wanted researchers to know one another and to better understand each other's disciplines.

 

This exchange of technical knowledge, argued Rattner, is key to Intel's future success.

Andy Taylor, Intel Fellows Office, describes the idea and concept behind Intel's recent TechFest.

 

And so is "creating a sense of urgency in everything we do," said Perlmutter, who is general manager of the Intel Architecture Group.

 

The dominant themes at the conference were more and better collaboration, better user experience and the compute continuum.

 

"We can still make the PC exciting, but we need to change our world view..." - Dadi Perlmutter

 

Getting out of the box

This year's conference was a marked departure from the prior model in which isolated disciplines — micro architecture, platform architecture, SoCs, graphics, power, user experience, graphics and visual computing, and systems software — each held their own mini-conference.

 

"It's no longer feasible for teams to work in isolation," said Rattner in his keynote. "We can't live in our boxes anymore, focused on only one narrow area of expertise."

 

Rattner called out the visionary thinking of Carver Mead, who wrote in his landmark 1980 text, "Introduction to VLSI Systems," that "tall, thin engineers work at every level of integration from circuits to application software."

 

Intel engineers — tall and thin or not — have to be able to see all items in the vertical stack — from materials to microarchitecture to programming to user experience — and not just be experts in their own narrowly focused area, Rattner asserted.

 

Sundar Iyengar, a principal engineer in IAG, shared at the event that since Intel is so process driven, it will take time and a change in culture to break down silos. But he said success can be achieved through collaboration.

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Intel's Director of Creative Innovation will.i.am (center) discusses future technologies with Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and director of Interaction & Experience Research, and Justin Rattner, Intel chief technology officer, at TechFest in Portland, Ore.

 

Jill Sciarappo, director of strategy for low-end products in the Embedded Computing Group, said she adheres to the Netflix model of business groups being "highly aligned, loosely coupled." Business groups in that model still exist in loose silos, but work together on strategy and goals rather than tactics.

 

Ask users first, then design

Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and director of Interaction and Experience Research (IXR) group in Intel Labs, said in a keynote that Intel has to stop believing it is only a transistor company, urging the audience to make the user experience part of Intel's DNA.

 

"User experience is part of how Intel will win the future," said Bell, and it's not just the "soft and fluffy stuff" as some engineers will call it. "As we did with Centrino when people told us they wanted to be connected everywhere and we created the mobile experience, we need to create more product categories and accelerate and move faster," Bell said.

 

Perlmutter said "99.9 percent" of the people outside of TechFest don't care about "optimized drivers" and clock speed or the silicon in their devices; they care about the experiences their devices give them.

 

Azam Barkatullah, principal engineer in Intel's New Business Initiatives group, said the user experience track at TechFest opened his eyes to the company's traditional method of developing products and then looking for a problem they need to solve. Instead, he added, Intel needs to find the problem end users have, figure out a solution and then develop a product around that.

 

Compute and continue

Many speakers at TechFest echoed the message that the company must deliver experiences and capabilities that span the continuum — everything from smartphones to PCs to smart TVs to cloud computing.

Dave Diehl, chief architect with McAfee Firewall Enterprise, discusses endpoint to network firewall interlock at the Intel’s TechFest in Portland, Ore.

 

"User experience is part of how Intel will win the future." - Genevieve Bell

 

In his talk on "Compute Continuum Connectivity," Intel's Joshua Boelter pointed out that just 25 percent of the world is connected and 80 percent of those devices are computers and phones. We are only at the "beginning of an explosion of connected devices" Boelter said, by 2015, we should see a billion additional users and 10 billion more connected devices.

 

Technology users, he added, want all their devices to work together. For example, their smartphone controlling their heaters at home, their tablets transferring photos to their smartphones.

 

'Nothing is sacred'

"The world is changing and we need to think beyond the PC," said Perlmutter. "We continue to see the world through the lens of our past — the CPU lens and the PC lens. We can still make the PC exciting, but we need to change our world view to be successful in the future, and look at the user experience lens, the better battery life lens, the 2x performance lens."

 

An exponential change is needed, he told the audience. "We need to break the old rules. Nothing is sacred."

Think Mother's Day is all about flowers, cards and taking mom out for nice meal? Think again. More than $1.46 billion will be spent on consumer tech for Mother's Day this year in the U.S., nearly double the amount spent just five years ago, according to the National Retail Federation.

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Colleen Padilla, who blogs at ClassyMommy, says moms have an innate sense for when new tech gadgets are really a necessity for the family.

 

The 2011 NRF survey, released last week, showed that the portion of people purchasing tech-related Mother's Day gifts this year will top 13 percent, up from 9 percent last year, with each person spending an average of $95 on consumer electronics or computer accessory related items.

 

According to stats compiled by She-Economy, women account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases including everything from autos to health care, and account for 66 percent of PC purchases.

 

We reached out to five tech savvy mom's to find out why they know best about what technologies are right for their family, and what's high on their wish list for Mother's Day.

 

Colleen Padilla is a full-time mother of two who is based in Philadelphia and is known to many for her blog ClassyMommy. She is currently working on a book titled "The Digital Mom Handbook," which will be released in July from Harper Collins.

 

"Moms aren't blinded by the latest and greatest whiz bang technology," says Padilla. "We need to see how it will actually improve our daily lives and offer practical solutions for our family.Moms seem to have an innate sense of just when new tech gadgets are a necessity in our lives versus a whimsical want."

 

What's on Padilla's Mother's Day wish list? "A new fashionable cover for my Kindle, a pink HP Mini netbook and maybe a little surprise from Tiffany's," she says.

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Amy Oztan, who blogs at SelfishMom, says moms are on the pulse of what technology will work or not - budget wise, habit wise, longevity wise.

 

Amy Oztan is a mother of two and shares her genuine, humor-laced parenting experiences and advice on SelfishMom. "I've always been into gadgets and electronics," she says.

 

"I think moms in general have the edge when it comes to buying tech for the family and home because most of us are more in tune with the rhythms of daily life in our households. Even for those households where both parents work full-time, mom probably has her finger on the pulse of what will work and what won't - budget wise, habit wise, longevity wise."

 

What's on Selfish Mom Oztan's Mother's Day wish list?

 

"Most years for Mother's Day I have a very selfish wish: to spend most of the day alone," she says. "That day has always been kind-of a get-out-of-jail-free day, a day to do whatever you want. But to be honest, as my kids get older, I think that hurts their feelings a little bit. So I'll spend part of the day with them and part of it doing something indulgent for myself."

 

"As far as tech goes," she says, "it's probably time for me to move to a new camera. I love my two point-and-shoot cameras, but I drool over the pictures my friends take with their fancier cameras. And if we want to go into the really wishful stuff, I fell in love with those little dancing Nao robots. Make one tall enough to open my fridge and bring me a drink, and I'll be the happiest mom in Brooklyn!"

 

On the week leading up to Mother's Day, Becky Worley actually found her life invaded by robots as she prepared a consumer technology segment for ABC News' "Good Morning America" and Yahoo! News' Upgrade Your Life.

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TV news tech reporter Becky Worley says innovations in robots such as vacuums can help mom spend less time on keeping order in the home.

 

"Mom's work is NEVER done," she says. "Can she get a little help? A robot just might do the trick."

 

Worley's job allows her to not only test out the latest consumer products, it allows her to meet with the people from companies that make them.

 

"The Jetson's dream of mechanized cleaners and laundry folding robots is not quite here, but innovations in home robotics are promising busy moms like me some respite," said Worley.

 

"In my years of testing, the vacuum cleaners are amazing," she says. "The Roomba from iRobot is great on hard-wood floors and low-pile rugs, it doesn't have much suction for deep-pile rugs. But for me, the Neato is the holy grail of home robots, and it's a Mother's day gift that would save mom 30 minutes or more each week."

 

Beth Blecherman is a mother of three who is the Chief Technologist at Cool Tech Mom and writes about technology and gadgets for family on her blog TechMamas.

 

"Moms know best because they are the main one purchasing tech for families, so they need to find best tech" that fits the family's need, says Blecherman.

 

What's on Techmama's Mother's Day wish list?

 

"I want one of those new thin and light laptops like Samsung Series 9," she says. "And a desktop with a BIG screen for our family room.

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Erin Martin Kane is her family's tech expert and is hoping for a a Sonos wireless multi-room music system to enhance her Mother's Day.

 

Erin Martin Kane is the executive producer of Manic Mommies Media and a lifestyle blogger at Real Simple.

 

"Although my husband is in charge of the televisions in the house (and the remotes)," she says, "I have always been the one in charge of the other technology around the home, probably because of the many different hats I wear:"

 

In addition to being a mother of two, Kane says she's "an Entrepreneur running two businesses out of my living room office; the Chief Homework Officer and Captain of the Video Game Police; the Family Archivist responsible for capturing and preserving digital memories; the Family Administrator and keeper of the calendar dates like birthdays; and Tech Support, because when something breaks, I'm the troubleshooter and unlike my husband, I have no problem calling in the professionals."

 

"When it comes to how best to manage all these responsibilities," she concludes, "I'm the Decider. Period."

 

What's on Kane's Mother's Day wish list?" A trip to church with no complaints from anyone," she says. "Brunch, where I don't have to cook or clean up after. Alone time, preferably at a spa. And of course, a Sonos wireless multi-room music system, something I'm test-driving now."

Automatic transmission, one-button door lock and alarm set, built-in GPS navigation, cameras and sensors for maneuvering in tight spots – soon these may seem like standard conveniences compared to new technologies moving into the mainstream this year, according to some auto industry In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) experts.

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According to one study more than 42 million cars are expected to be equipped with Internet access by 2017.

 

It appears automakers are embracing the Internet in a big way this year as they climb back from the auto industry crash of 2008-2009.

 

According to Instat research, 15 million IVI systems will be sold this year, with more than 35 million expected to ship by 2015. In a report released earlier this year, InStat Senior Analyst Stephanie Ethier said that "in order to compete, the automotive industry must now keep pace with the innovation and scalability found in the consumer electronics industry."

 

Bringing New Meaning to the Term: "Information Superhighway"

Look for increasing numbers of vehicles to get online as a new element to IVI systems. The worldwide number of cars able to connect to the Internet is forecasted to grow from less than 1 million in 2009 to more than 42 million by 2017, according to a report by iSuppli.

 

The Internet is key to the way people consume content today and putting this online capability on wheels is a growing trend.

 

"People want experiences they're used to getting at home or on their mobile devices," said Intel Labs researcher Joe Pitarresi. "They want the entertainment and access to online services they're used to getting outside the car to extend to what we call the fourth screen, which is inside the car."

 

These experiences must be customized and carefully designed in order to maintain a safe driving environment, said Pitarresi, who is exploring ways to deliver in-car Internet experiences in a safe manner.

 

For years professional car modifiers, or "modders," have been embedding wireless computers inside cars. In 2005, Intel teamed up with West Coast Customs and Mad Mike, former host of MTV's "Pimp My Ride," to trick out a Chrysler 300C with a Centrino-powered laptop that controlled security cameras, music, a DVD player and other electronic functions from inside and outside the car using an Internet-connected device. The designers were able to remove side or rearview mirrors because the driver could look at a line of dashboard screens and get a real-time perspective from webcams built around the car.

 

According to Pitarresi, competition is heating up as more automakers try turning more of their models into connected cars. Today, IVI Internet-enabled systems and services are on the market from a number of manufacturers.

At CES 2011, Intel showed a proof-of-concept demo with BMW that featured an Intel Atom processor-powered IVI system with built-in Internet access and a new BMW Connected iPhone app which allows for streaming Internet radio and video and the ability to have Facebook and Twitter streams read out loud.

 

Ford, which led the automotive industry in this area when it announced Sync-based vehicles with Microsoft in 2007, is continuing to refine the platform. Popular Mechanics reported this month that Ford is making a SYNC-based MyTouch system with built-in WiFi, and open to third-party apps, available inside the 2011 Lincoln MXK. The goal is to offer My Touch in 80 percent of its fleet within 5 years.

 

This year, GM's OnStar, which has over 5 million subscribers, will be offered through an aftermarket rearview mirror. This accessory is embedded with a cellular phone, Bluetooth hands-free calling, navigation and crash response technology, and will be available at Best Buy for $299 plus installation and monthly subscription fee, according to AutoTrader.

 

"If the battle of the 20th century was Ford versus General Motors, the next century might be Ford SYNC vs. GM OnStar," said Jason Johnson, product development engineer at Ford, in a recent interview with Mashable.

 

Companies such as Broadcom Corporation, Freescale Semiconductor, Intel, Marvell, Nvidia and STMicroelectronics are supplying the chips embedded into today's vehicles, helping monitor and control everything from engine performance to brake usage and tire pressure. But as automakers build more cars that connect to the Internet, chipmakers as well as other businesses and services could benefit, according to Xingang Guo an Intel researcher based in Hillsboro, Ore.

 

Xingang Guo, who works in the Intel Labs, thinks a lot about the prospect of millions of cars connected, sharing and consuming up-to-the-minute information.

 

"They could be connecting to business and social entities," he said. "The government may want to log potholes or traffic conditions, and insurance industry experts could get more nuanced information to help them offer more personalized coverage to customers. There may even be applications for energy providers, emergency response and local businesses."

 

Guo and Pitarresi's research team at Intel has built several prototype systems for cars, each powered by an Intel Atom processor. Proof-of-concept platforms have been built into a BMW X5, a Mercedes-Benz and an Infinity EX35.

 

In these proof-of-concept vehicles from Intel, the onboard test units are nestled inside the trunk and a MeeGo operating system connects to the car's internal controller network. In one demonstration, the Intel Labs team showed what happens when a car alarm is triggered by a thief or door dinger. On-board video cameras automatically begin capturing the scene inside and outside the vehicle and the computer system feeds live video to the Internet, where footage is archived and can be immediately retrieved from a private site. Car owners are able to click a link from their phone, computer or smart TV to view a live video stream from the car's webcam at the time the alarm was triggered.

 

Intel Labs says the application could save time and give people peace of mind by allowing them to do such things as lock their doors using a smart phone without having to walk back to the car. The application can also help locate cars in a crowded parking lot.

 

"We believe application innovation for connected vehicles is truly unlimited," Pitarresi said.

 

These research efforts are intended to help identify and transfer intelligence to Intel's recently created Automotive Solutions Division, which builds and sells technologies to the auto industry for their IVI systems.

 

According to Joel Hoffmann, a strategic market development manager at Intel's Automotive Solutions Division, "IVI systems built with standardized technologies -- versus proprietary hardware and software – can help automakers and their suppliers more easily and cost-effectively incorporate new features that consumers want today, and remain flexible enough to take on future enhancements."

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WiFi and passenger Internet access may soon be a standard feature in many cars.

 

While there are still issues to overcome, not the least of which is connectivity across a diverse urban to rural geographic area with multiple service providers, many believe it is only a matter of time before Internet capabilities become standard to meet the demand for connectivity, navigation and information.

 

Dealing with privacy and data security are also major challenges. A recent New York Times story reported how researchers were able to use a computer to hack into a new car's electronics system, demonstrating how future thieves could potentially unlock doors and even start the engine without bashing in windows.

 

Yet to be decided, too, is the tug of war between in-dash computing systems and smart phones. With increasing computing functionality in handheld devices, it's possible they will become the ultimate car computer, freely able to move inside and outside the car. For example, Honda is making its InterNavi system available free to all Honda owners, and they can use it on their phones even if they don't have a compatible in-dash system.

 

"It's more than just accessing the Internet; it's also having access to a set of services, applications, information and ability to conduct transactions, all while allowing the driver to focus on driving," said Guo. "More than just putting the car on the Internet, this is about creating new experiences for the vehicle. We need to make sure information is carefully managed, filtered and delivered so eyes can stay on the road."

 

Consumers can expect to see automakers offering new connected experiences similar to the Internet-driven ones people get on other devices. These future features will be automobile-centric and optimized for safe, in-vehicle use, according to Pitarresi.

 

"Adding Internet connectivity to IVI systems will make driving safer, more time- and energy-efficient and more pleasurable and productive," he said.

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