Tech Innovation

Best New Tech from IDF 2016

Ken Kaplan Executive Editor, iQ by Intel
IDF 2016 virtual reality demo

At the Intel Developer Forum 2016, developers are key to shaping the digital future.

It looks like the world’s largest geekfest, but the six thousand change makers who attend the Intel Developer Forum 2016 (IDF) in San Francisco see it as a giant springboard into the digital future.

These hardware and software techies fill the event with science fiction sounding terms like merged reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“Some terms go on to become a big part of our vernacular,” said Ben Wood, Research VP at CCS Insight. “It’s worthwhile learning those if you want to keep on top of the latest tech trends.”

IDF 2016 attendees are crazy curious and eager to digitize the world using code and applications powered by billions of silicon transistors at their disposal, all packed on tiny computer chips. Many of the tools they use didn’t exist a few decades ago. Some things they’ll create next year haven’t even formed a thought bubble yet.

Their enthusiasm, innovative ideas and tech skills are critical to the future of autonomous cars, flying robots, 5G wireless networks and smart,  connected cities.

As computing becomes more pervasive beyond personal devices, developers and early tech adopters will help turn digital innovation into social and economic benefits, according to Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.

“There’s so much potential to do amazing things together and to create truly new experiences that will transform the world,” he told the audience.

Krzanich, along with other Intel and industry leaders, introduced a slew of new technologies aimed at initiating innovation across many different aspects of life, including transportation, sports and entertainment.

Autonomous Cars

Elmar Frickenstein, senior VP of BMW’s automated driving group, sat shotgun in a sleek BMW i3 electric car that drove itself onto the stage.

IDF 2016 - BMW Autonomous car

Frickenstein said BMW is all in on the autonomous driving future, starting with his company’s new 7-series, which can remotely park itself. He said driverless cars will generate vast amounts of data, requiring supercomputing-levels of processing power as well as lightning-fast mobile networks like 5G.

IDF 2016 - BMW Autonomous car interior

Krzanich said that by 2020, autonomous cars will likely generate 4,000 GB of date per day compared with the average person, who will generate 1.5 GB.

BMW expects to bring truly autonomous cars to streets by 2021.

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Merged Reality

There’s VR, AR and mixed reality, but merged reality a new way of experiencing physical and virtual interactions and environments through a suite of next-generation sensing and digitizing technologies, according to Kraznich.

He told developers that merged reality goes beyond VR to bring together “real-life movement and environments with simulated virtual objects, environments and actions.”

He played a video of party with pop singer Robin Thicke, who walked around greeting people, grabbed a drink and even changed the story as it unfolded.

Kraznich revealed Project Alloy, a headset that packs dual Intel RealSense cameras, motion sensors, and computer processor and graphics into a snug, wireless VR headset.

IDF 2016 - Merged Reality headset

Alloy supports “six degrees of freedom,” which means no longer being anchored to one spot in a dedicated VR room. Don’t worry about bumping into the dog because RealSense cameras detect real world objects and people in front of the goggles. Forget about holding grubby controllers, too—just wave your hands in the air.

The Alloy prototype design will be shared as open source in 2017, “allowing developers and partners to create their own branded products from the Alloy design,” said Krzanich. Microsoft’s Windows Holographic, the virtual and augmented reality software platform behind its HoloLens device, will support Alloy.

New Module Makes Things Smart and Connected

Intel Joule was designed for tech tinkerers and product prototype makers eager to quickly bring powerful, low cost computer vision technology to new devices.

IDF 2016 - Intel Joule module

“Joule is essentially a tiny and powerful computer with all its standard up-to-date parts, but it also has enhanced sensors powered by Intel’s RealSense tech that make it suitable for powering software for drones, robots, and other gadgets to help those devices see, analyze, and collect data about the real world,” wrote Nate Statt of the Verge.

The thumb-sized module was designed for the Internet of Things and is ideal for computer vision, industrial IoT, VR, AR, micro-servers, and other applications that require high-end edge computing. Smaller and more powerful than existing Arduino 101 and Intel Edison modules, the Intel Joule 550x and 570x modules is available for $150-$200.

IDF 2016 - Safety glasses with Joule

French company PivotHead used Joule to build augmented reality safety glasses for manufacturing environments.

IDF 2016 - Motocycle Helmet with Joule

There was an augmented reality equipped motorcycle helmet prototype created by French company EyeSight that pulled critical drive information to an inconspicuous lens.

IDF 2016 - ezrobots with joule

In a matter of week, EZ-Robot from Canada used Intel Joule to update their collection of easy-to-assemble robots.

Human-like Sensing to Things

Intel Euclid technology brings human-like sensing and compute intelligence to things like robots. Created for researchers makers, and robotics developers, Krzanich said, “This is a developers’ dream,” he said.

The small, super-thin device – the size of a candy bar – packs an Intel Atom chip, an Intel Real Sense R200 depth camera, wireless capabilities and developer-friendly utility application. Euclid will be sold as part of a developer kit, available early 2017.

New Processors

In addition to showing VR applications playing on a PC powered by the 10-core Intel Core i7 processor, Krzanich said, “It’s our most advanced, high-performance processor, proof that a powerful microprocessor remains the essential engine of technology innovation.”

The 7th Generation Intel Core processors will arrive later this year.

Smart City Lighting

Jeff Immelt, CEO and Chairman of General Electric, joined Krzanich on stage to show how GE’s cloud-based IoT productivity suite of tools, called Predix, can help improve industrial productivity and smart cities.

GE showed how an idea to upgrade LED lights with computer and sensing technologies evolved quickly into prototypes for city light posts smart enough to alert drivers of open parking spots.

“Using [GE] Current lights and Intel chip-based sensors, a city’s traffic control center will be able to see not only cars and trucks on the road, but also pedestrians, feeding information into the collision avoidance systems on driverless cars,” wrote Dorothy Pomerantz of GE Reports.

IDF 2016 - GE Smart City Apps

Tech to Speed Drone Development

IDF was filled with Yuneec Typhoon H drones, the new models built with Intel RealSense technology. They were on stage, at booths and carried around by developers who got a special price at the event. During panels and the drone demo areas, developers and engineers discussed new regulations and industrial uses for drones, but it was a tiny computer board and prototype drone – dubbed the Aero – that peaked curiosities.

IDF 2016 - Intel Areo Drone Kit

Designed from the ground up to support drones, the UAV developer kit is powered by an Intel Atom quad-core processor. It combines compute, storage and communications capabilities all in the size of a standard playing card.

The Aero ready-to-fly drone, a fully-assembled quadcopter with compute board, integrated depth and vision capabilities enabled by RealSense Technology, can help developers quickly get applications airborne. It supports several “plug and play” options, including a flight controller with Dronecode PX4 software, Intel RealSense for vision and AirMap SDK for airspace services.

Pre-orders of the Aero are available for $399 and will begin shipping  by end of year.

Smart DJ Mixer

Soon DJs can leave their laptops behind because The Invader smart scratch mixing board by Thud Rumble has all the computing needs inside.

IDF 2016 - Thud Rumble DJ Qbert

Played on stage to kick off the keynote and out in the hall throughout the event, Invader prototypes were put into action by Thud Rumble’s Qbert, Killa-Jewel and other DJs during IDF.

According to Roberto Baldwin at Engadget, The Invader mixer will come with audio ports and the ability to switch to phono so DJs can scratch actual vinyl. It will have USB 3 ports and an HDMI socket so DJs can use applications like Serato Video to output moving images. It runs Windows 10, powered by an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor, and will sell for $1,699 later this year.

IDF 2016 - Thud Rumble smart mixers turntable

Silicon Photonics

Diane Bryant, executive vice president and general manager of Intel’s Data Center Group said network traffic in the data center is doubling every year. Sending data on electrons over copper cable in the data center won’t help handle the growth of future data traffic.

After 16 years of development and many scientific breakthroughs, Intel’s first light emitting silicon photonics product hit the market in June. It can send 100 gigabits of data per second across two kilometers. It’s another tool developers can use to speed data transfer, especially around AI and machine learning.

Smart Toothbrush

Team Grush won a $1 million last May for their idea of injecting fun into kids’ nightly tooth brushing ritual in the inaugural season of America’s Greatest Makers. The team joined Krzanich on stage and announced their smart Intel Curie-powered toothbrush would hit the market in time for holidays.

IDF 2016 - Grush Smart Toothbrush
Photo by Walden Kirsch.

“Everything you have seen is really just the beginning of what will soon be possible,” said Krzanich in closing. “We’ve brought you more compute, more capability, and more innovation for you to develop with. I have no doubt that together, we can change the world.”

 

Intel’s Jeremy Schultz and Jason Cheah contributed to this story.

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