We recently learned that, hey, Intel doesn’t just do processors, after all. Sometimes, we get off-the-wall stuff like a messenger with goofy animations—other times, we get some pretty incredible new technologies that could genuinely change the way you live in the near future.
At the 2014 Intel Future Showcase in New York, Intel showed off a few things they’re working on. We know, pretty much everything coming out today seems like it fell out of the pages of science fiction, but what Intel has in store for the future might just impress even the most jaded tech enthusiasts out there. If nothing else, it’s at least a preview of what you can expect will be in your home—believe it or not, sooner rather than later.
Jimmy the Robot
Jimmy is the name of a robot belonging to Brian David Johnson, a futurist at Intel. Your robot can be named whatever you want—and believe me, that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to customizing this guy. Jimmy is part of Intel’s 21st Century Robot initiative, which aims to make service robots accessible to more people. That includes making sure they’re personalized. Robots like Jimmy can be designed by you—Jimmy is humanoid, but if you want to make a robot that looks like something out of Lovecraft, that will probably be possible. That’s because these robots are 3-D printed, giving each person complete creative freedom that mass production usually takes away.
The hardware isn’t the only customizable part. Jimmy and his kin run on open source software with an API out for developers. Anyone using the API can create custom programs that the robots can run, and eventually, there will probably even be a marketplace where robot programs can be bought and sold—not all that different from what app stores are to your smartphone.
So, this is all a good five to ten years away, right? Probably closer to five to ten days. Last month, Intel put on a 21st Century Robot event, where teams from ten universities showed off their creations using Intel’s robotics program. That was the coming out party—Intel plans to make these 3-D printed robots widely available this year, and expect to sell them at under $1,000.
Intel’s RealSense technology opens up a bunch of possibilities for gesture control and 3-D scanning and tracking. But, we’re talking about the future, not the past. Where RealSense gets real interesting is with the floating display Intel is working on. Or, in more recognizable terms—an interactive hologram. By using a basic computer display and running the light through a special piece of glass, a 3-D image is projected. This image can be a menu—something that, in the future, could be a more hygienic alternative to physical keypads. It could even shake up the way you shop for clothes in stores, or make for interactive advertisements on city streets.
The RealSense technology also uses a camera—something like a Kinect—that tracks your movement, and can register gestures or virtual button presses. It’s even smart enough to hold off on executing a command until you’ve held a button down for a few seconds, protecting against accidental gestures. Of course, this technology is just in the early stages. In the next few years, it’ll be exciting to see how this develops.
Wireless Charging Bowl
You might have heard about the Qi standard and the Power Matters Alliance—two competing wireless charging standards. Qi is currently found in many high-end smartphones, and requires no peripherals, as long as you carefully place it on the wireless charger. The PMA standard is not baked into any devices yet, relying on external cases and accessories to enable wireless charging.
Well, things might be swinging the way of PMA. Intel is backing a third player, the Alliance for Wireless Power, that joined forces with PMA earlier this year to make a unified standard. That should still revolve around A4WP’s magnetic resonance technology, which is at work in the simplest wireless charging technology to date. Intel created a wireless charging bowl. It looks like a salad bowl, but you chuck your devices into it, instead. And, that’s it—no need to place your devices in the bowl in any particular way. If A4WP starts coming standard in devices in the future, things like this charging bowl will become commonplace, and charging your devices will be nothing more than an afterthought.