Edge of Innovation

Performance Pushing Technologies from Computex 2015

Deb Miller Landau iQ Managing Editor

Technology enthusiasts descended on Computex in Taipei this week to test drive souped-up gaming PCs and flashy smartphones, explore the promises of wireless charging and learn about the growing connectedness of everything.

Computex is the largest information and communications technology trade show in Asia. More than 130,000 attendees visit 1,700 vendors to see what’s new and what’s coming in the world of technology.

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Along with the usual product announcements from the major players like Dell (tablets and 2-in-1s) and Microsoft (Windows 10), the buzziest parts of the show were centered on the burgeoning Internet of Things as well as a growing sub-industry around the culture of “modding,” which for decades has turned desktop PCs into high-performing works of art.

Lee Harrington of pcjunkiemods.com explained that while the field has been around for a while, the mod world really kicked into overdrive after Nvidia hosted last year’s Mod 24, a livestreamed 24-hour mod competition.

“It was pretty cool,” said Harrington. “Three teams, 24 hours, create your mod in that time frame. It’s all about taking the computer and making it yours.”

One example of modding showed up at Computex. ThermalThor is a creative Thor-inspired computer gaming rig cranked together by Thai fisherman Suchao Prowphong.

“It’s the perfect setup for a show like Computex where everything is screaming for your attention,” wrote Vlad Savov on The Verge. “This hammer of the gods definitely achieves the goal of being eye-catching.” #ThermalThor took off.

Computex is a major showcase for the “Internet of Things,” the interconnectedness or “smartifying” everyday things in our lives. In Taipei, YouBike, a bike-share program, demonstrates what IoT means on a city level.

“YouBike is designed to solve the last mile problem for commuters,” explained Daphne Chen, marketing program manager from Intel’s Embedded Sales Group.

The bikes are positioned near the train lines to help people get to work more fluidly. The bikes are linked to a kiosk, which links to the cloud and communicates how many bikes are available and the best places to drop or pick up.

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Intel demonstrated a number of uses of its IoT Gateway for home and business, including a greenhouse whose sensors measure temperature, moisture and luminosity. Using three different gateways — Windows X, Ubuntu Snappy Core and Wind River — Intel’s Jonathan Skeel showed how farmers could open doors, turn on lights and run the sprinkler system remotely, at the touch of a button.

By collecting sensor data, the gateway provides local analytics along with connecting to cloud analytics. A farmer could, for example, use the data, connect to the weather service and determine best times and dates to water crops.

Harkening a new day when computers will have a single port, Intel’s Kirk Skaugen introduced Thunderbolt 3, the soon-to-be ubiquitous USB-C and called it “One cord to rule them all.”

In his keynote address, Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the Client Computing Group at Intel, said Thunderbolt 3 can allow transfer speeds up to 40 Gbps, power not one but two 4K monitors, and is simply the best way to connect to your data, devices and displays.

Featured as part of Gizmodo’s Crazy New Computers at Computex 2015, Intel’s Compute Stick is a mini-computer that fits in the palm. It houses a quad-core Intel Core M processor, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage and comes bundled with Windows 8.1 with Bing as the default search engine. It comes equipped with a microSD card slot to expand storage, houses WiFi 802.11n, Bluetooth 4.0 and supports HDMI.

Acer made some noise at Computex this week with more details about its much anticipated Predator 8 gaming tablet slated for release in the fall. Attendees got a sneak peek through a glass case at the gunmetal gray and red tablet.

The tablet will run on Android OS and have quad audio for booming gameplay and two times faster graphics with Intel’s speedy Cherry Trail processor. The Cherry Trail chip is also used in Microsoft’s Surface 3, which started shipping last month.

With 2015 Computex in the books, it’s clear the future is changing. The word is becoming more connected, smarter and more efficient.

 

Todd Krieger contributed to this story.

 

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