Feeds

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

Chipzilla ponders IoT - the Internet of Twitchers

The essential guide to IT transformation

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. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
Super Cali signs a kill-switch, campaigners say it's atrocious
Remote-death button bad news for crooks, protesters – and great news for hackers?
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Will It Blend? Maybe. BlackBerry’s secret comeback weapon
The Desktop PIM buddy: A 1990s idea finally done right?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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?