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September 15, 2011 Previous day Next day

To add pizzazz to his photos of family vacations, Horst Haussecker recently bought a GPS-enabled camera that identifies the location where each shot was taken. Instead of being excited about the latest feature, however, he found himself wanting more.


"It was the most disappointing experience, actually," said Haussecker, who works for Intel in Santa Clara, Calif. "The camera had the capability but no way to see the photos on a map without a major effort, and even then it didn't visualize the photos in a 3-D setting. It merely pinpointed the location on a Google map."


"Vibrant Media" transforms flat pictures of a conventional photo album into multi-dimensional data collections.


For most people, returning the camera for a full or partial refund is pretty much the only solution, and Haussecker might still make a trip back to the store. But as director of Intel's Experience Technology Lab, he is in the rare and enviable position to actually be part of the solution.


At the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, Haussecker and his team demonstrated the results of their efforts to develop tomorrow's photo collections where flat pictures transform into multi-dimensional data collections. The hope for this new technology is to "open new windows into perception, memory and imagination," according to the 10-year Intel Labs veteran.


Haussecker and Intel call it "Vibrant Media," and within 2 years users will see some aspects of it on their PCs, including Ultrabooks and tablets, and eventually on their smartphones.


The prize of Vibrant Media is a captured moment that the user can return to and explore. For example, a photo of a batter taken in a baseball stadium would not have just the hitter as the subject, but a peanut vendor in the background, also in focus, making an amazing behind-the-back toss. Such detail might be lost in today's cameras.


Technology that captures photos and makes 3-D models is already in the marketplace in the form of plain optic cameras and like devices that can fire off a sequence of images with miniscule delay. However, that's but one aspect of what Intel and other developers are working on.


"There's much more to photos than just having models – that's only the first step," Haussecker said. "The next step is to create something that isn't static. There's much more to this world than a static 3-D shape. The real world is live. Things are moving. Things are happening."


The ultimate challenge, and one in which Intel is seeking industry collaboration, is to create media capabilities that allow consumers to extract details from a photo to give the user more information.


"We need to stop chasing the perfect shot. There is no right or wrong answer in capturing a scene," Haussecker said. "We must change the paradigm. Today, creation and consumption are considered two different things. The future paradigm will combine these two aspects."


By virtue of the new paradigm, the user will browse media in more interactive ways. Creation and consumption will become one.


"You're not creating an artifact that you save for eternity and do nothing else with it," he said. "Instead, you're capturing very rich data sets with a large number of images that tell you something about the orientation of the camera, who is in the photo and when you're taking the photo. You're not just passively watching."


The concept is so novel that Intel and its development partners are still figuring out how consumers might use the technology.


"We have a toolbox of brand new hardware and software capabilities. What we don't have is full knowledge of what technologies people need," Haussecker said. "That's why we need to work with social scientists and ethnographers to help us understand the needs and desires of what people want in the first place, and then designers to work on the interaction and device capabilities. Next is working with the tech team to build algorithms to create the perfect photographic experience.


Intel, taking on the role of computerizing all this, is hopeful that "vibrant media" becomes a feature people want for a new class of 'personal computing' and a range of new devices, including Ultrabooks, tablets, and smartphones..


"Intel knows that people are yearning to be more creative with their photography, and we want to deliver the goods that satisfy this need." Haussecker said. "We're long past the day when people only took pictures for documenting important events. Today, people are using cameras in much more playful ways. You're in a bar and take a photo that might never be used."


With "vibrant media," that random picture taken at the bar could be as rich as a potent mudslide.


"A simple photo of friends having a good time wouldn't be simple at all," Haussecker said. "It would be more than a photo or collection of photos. It would truly capture the moment to be re-experienced in vivid ways. The day of the fleeting, random photo is coming to an end, and that's very exciting."



Vibrant Media: Future 3-D Photography

Users will soon be able to move photos back and forth between smart phones, tablets and PCs and extend caller IDs and chat capabilities from the phone to the desktop. The application software made a surprisingly low-key appearance during Intel President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Otellini's keynote address at the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, which emphasized placing the user at the center of the computing experience.


Photos move between an Android-based Samsung Galaxy 2 smart phone, a Toshiba Portege Ultrabook and an Apple iPad 2 with Intel Pair & Share.


Intel Pair & Share, which enables cross-platform sharing of photos over Wi-Fi, and Intel TelePort Extender, which notifies users of incoming mobile calls and extends SMS to the PC, are part of a joint effort underway in Intel's Software and Solutions Group and PC Client Group.


Intel Pair & Share allows users to connect any Intel PC running Windows 7 with Android and Apple iOS mobile devices to move photos between the devices over a Wi-Fi connection. In the Advanced Technology Showcase at IDF, Intel's Ellen Chi demonstrated the software by moving photos between an Android-based Samsung Galaxy 2 smart phone, a Toshiba Portege Ultrabook and an Apple iPad 2.


The free Pair & Share PC application will be available for download from Intel in October, as will the free Pair & Share mobile applications from the Android Market and Apple iTunes Store. Following Intel availability, Best Buy Marketplace and other retailers will also offer free downloads of the PC application. The PC application is expected to ship preinstalled on select Acer, Samsung and Toshiba PCs in time for the winter holiday season.


Editor's Note: Intel Pair & Share is now available for download.


After the applications are installed, connecting devices with Pair & Share is as simple as pairing a Bluetooth headset to a mobile phone according to Chi. "Once you identify the device, you click, you connect and then you enter the code," she said. On first pairing, users must enter a six-digit code, but afterward devices connect automatically when on the same Wi-Fi network.


Chat session extended from an Android smartphone to the PC desktop using Intel TelePort Extender.


Intel TelePort Extender allows users to connect any Android smartphone with any Intel PC running Windows 7 over a Wi-Fi network to receive notifications of incoming calls and engage in chat sessions on the PC. The software can "untie a user from their phone, but still never miss a call," said Intel's Balchandani Sonesh who demonstrated the technology at IDF.


A user can connect multiple phones to a single PC and a single phone to multiple PCs. TelePort Extender integrates a user's phone contact list on the PC, allowing caller ID to display on incoming call alerts that users can choose to answer on their phone or send to voicemail from the PC. In addition, users can engage in chat sessions using their phone's SMS on a PC and search archived chats.


The free TelePort Extender PC application will be available for download from Intel in late fall, as will the free TelePort Extender mobile application from the Android Market. The PC application is expected to ship preinstalled on select PCs in early 2012.



Smartphones, Tablets, PCs Connect with Intel Apps

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