Feeds

Intel Labs 'geeks' flash Edison kit to El Reg: We do it for the BIRDS

Chipzilla ponders IoT - the Internet of Twitchers

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Intel’s recent Edison launch was much more than a tilt at the burgeoning wearables space – Chipzilla has been working on designs for everything from a smart birdfeeder to a paper notebook on which the user can compose emails, according to a chief boffin.

Dr Randolph Wang is chief scientist at Intel Labs China, where he had up to 50 people working on the SD card-sized computer project over the past three years, he told The Reg.

“We’re Intel but a remote corner of the empire, operating more like a start-up,” he said. “The whole bunch of us are geeks. We wanted to have fun but do something novel.”

Once the team had arrived at the pluggable, self-contained SD card-sized form factor it began to evolve the product.

First up, this involved plugging it into off-the-shelf devices like cameras but soon it became necessary to build devices from scratch with Edison in mind, which Intel did with help from Beijing Tsinghua University’s department of industrial design, said Wang.

Aside from the smart coffee mugs demoed alongside the Edison-powered baby monitor at CES in January, the team has designed 30-40 separate devices to push the mini-computer into diverse areas.

One El Reg favourite involves a smart birdfeeder with a built-in camera.

“We run customised bird recognition code on the Edison powering this thing, so that, for example, if it’s a common sparrow, it will not capture or transmit the results,” said Wang.

“The bird feeder also works with other Edison-powered gadgets, so if it detects particular kinds of birds being captured, for example, it’ll display a bird icon on grandma’s teacup.”

Another prototype involves a paper notebook “powered” by Edison.

“The kind of applications that we have demonstrated on it include hand-writing recognition that allows you to send emails with paper and pen,” Wang explained. “It works with your smartphone so you can compose the body of an email with paper and pen, but certain UI elements like confirming a recipient are done with the phone; an approach that combines the best of both worlds.”

Another application could be the ability to draw cartoons with handwritten commands and have those images become digitally animated on the screen, he added.

These examples lend credence to Wang’s insistence Edison is not merely a wearables or Internet of Things play but an “idea enabler”.

“A lot of emphasis is placed on wearables and IoT and a lot of these we could and would like to do but the words are too confining,” he said.

“We’re not claiming we can do everything. If you try to be everything you can end up being nothing.”

Two areas Edison will not be supporting anytime soon include the sensor-based systems known as “smart dust”, and support for media playback (there’s no GPU built-in).

However, Wang admitted that “low power graphics” will play a part in Edison’s future development – although there will be “several directions of iterations”.

He also promised that Intel would, in a couple of years, be able to produce a true SoC with everything – including NAND Flash and DDR – combined on-die to enable even lower cost, smaller gadgets in the future. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
PEAK APPLE: iOS 8 is least popular Cupertino mobile OS in all of HUMAN HISTORY
'Nerd release' finally staggers past 50 per cent adoption
Apple spent just ONE DOLLAR beefing up the latest iPad Air 2
New iPads look a lot like the old one. There's a reason for that
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
Microsoft fitness bands slapped on wrists: All YOUR HEALTH DATA are BELONG TO US
Wearable will deliver 'actionable insights for healthier living'
Lawyers mobilise angry mob against Apple over alleged 2011 Macbook Pro crapness
We suffered 'random bouts of graphical distortion' - fanbois
Caterham Seven 160 review: The Raspberry Pi of motoring
Back to driving's basics with a joyously legal high
FTDI yanks chip-bricking driver from Windows Update, vows to fight on
Next driver to battle fake chips with 'non-invasive' methods
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
How to simplify SSL certificate management
Simple steps to take control of SSL certificates across the enterprise, and recommendations centralizing certificate management throughout their lifecycle.