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Intel demos transparent-lid hybrid PC

Tablet-cum-notebook with a 'very strange name'

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CES 2012 Intel has developed a concept tablet-cum-notebook PC, dubbed Nikiski, that uses a full-width, two-sided transparent touchpad that allows you to view and interact with half of the notebook's display when the clamshell is closed.

"Nikiski is a very strange name, I agree," said Mooly Eden, general manager of Intel's PC Client Group, speaking to a packed house on Monday morning at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Nikiski is a very strange device, as well. When open, the notebook functions just as you'd expect it to, with the center of the touchpad functioning as a mouse-controlling trackpad.

When you place your palms on the touchpad to type, however, the touchpad recognizes your palms and allows you to type without your palm-touches moving the cursor. "Don't even think about copying it," Eden said of the palm-recognition feature, "because we've already patented it.

When closed, however, the transparent touchpad allows you to see Windows 8 alerts, news feeds, calendar and mail items, plus a small-window browser, and interact with them using the reverse side of the two-sided transparent capacitive touchpad.

When used this way, Nikiski functions as a large-scale Windows 8 smartphone – and considering that Intel's Ultrabook spec includes voice recognition, we see no reason why it couldn't be used as a speakerphone as well, provided that an OEM adds the requisite telecom hardware.

When you access an item through the Nikiski's closed-mode window, you can choose to open the clamshell and the item will open into full-screen mode – you could, for example, read an email message through the closed-mode window, then open the notebook and use the keyboard to type a reply.

When Eden asked the crowd if they'd like to have a Nikiski, and they responded in the affirmative, he replied, "You'll have to wait." Nikiski is, after all, merely a concept PC – but we can imagine it being a useful on-the-go device that provides a larger-screen version of smartphone alerts and interaction.

That is, if it ever sees the light of day as a product from one of Intel's stable of Ultrabook partners. ®

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