Tech Innovation

Top 10 Technologies From #IDF15

Deb Miller Landau iQ Managing Editor
Intel Edison board

From dancing spiders to flying bicycles, this year’s Intel Developer Forum debuted futuristic projects that will change the way people learn, play and experience the world.

“There’s never been a better time to be a developer,” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich told a sold-out room of engineers, scientists and makers of all stripes at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco.

With new devices coming to market, and ever-evolving developments in computer software and hardware, Krzanich said that computing is, maybe more than ever before, ubiquitous.

“In just about everything we do, computing is there with us.”

He said that as computing becomes more personal, three assumptions are driving innovation:

Sensification, where computers will increasingly be able to see, hear and touch; Smart and Connected, where with the increase in the Internet of Things, more and more everyday items will become smart and responsive; and Extension of You, where everything gets personal, from wearables to other responsive tech.

In a keynote packed with a flurry of live demos and special guests, Krzanich showed that so many forms of new and emerging technology has been, is and will continue to be powered by Intel.

Developers, he said, have “a fantastic set of opportunities to bring disruptive products to market.” For one of those opportunities, Krzanich brought onstage reality-show maestro Mark Burnett, who announced America’s Greatest Makers, a new multi-platform reality show competition for makers.

Here are some highlights from IDF.

Project: BMX Bike Tracking

Why it’s Cool: BMXers have access to real-time parametric information about their bikes and rides.

BMX bikes were flying at IDF, demonstrating how technology could be used to bridge the digital and physical worlds. Intel Curie, a low-power hardware module that can fit inside a button, uses sensors to track parametric information pertaining to the biker and the bike. The module also displays this information in real time. The same technology can be applied to a wide range of action sports.

Project: Big Mama Dancing Spiderbot

Why it’s Cool: This gesture-controlled robot comprised of 9,000 3D-printed parts danced, with an army of mini spiderbots behind it, to “Uptown Funk” by Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson — what isn’t cool about that?!

What is it: Big Mama is a robot that boasts an Intel Core i7 processor brain and uses RealSense technology to navigate the world around it. Big Mama was able to move her legs and roll around the stage. After the mini spiderbots were introduced last year’s IDF, Jimmy Fallon’s joke was that this technology would be responsible for the end of the world. Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich didn’t agree:

“I don’t think robotic spiders are going to be responsible for the end of the world, but they could definitely start a new dance craze,” he said.

presentation at IDF15


Project: MemoMi

Why it’s cool: This digital fitting-room mirror takes shopping to a whole new level.

What it is: Powered by Intel Core i7 processor and using Iris graphics software, the Memory Mirror lets shoppers see themselves in 360 degrees, try on different outfits virtually and share pics with friends. “This is no gimmick,” said Krzanich, adding that the MemoMi represents a revolutionary new way to shop. The mirrors are already in three Neiman Marcus stores, with a total of 16 stores hosting MemoMi by fall.

Project: Relay the Robot

Why it’s cool: It’s autonomous, responsive and really cute.

What it is: Relay is a three-foot-high robot that uses Intel RealSense technology to navigate without bumping into walls, doorways or people. On stage at IDF, Relay delivered a Diet Coke to Krzanich, and zig-zagged around the stage without bumping into anything.

Adrian Canoso, Design Lead for Savioke, the company that gave birth to Relay, said Relay’s design components are deliberate. Its height, for example, makes him an accessible assistant for anyone confined to a wheelchair. Its base easily fits through doorways, and its backlit compartment allows it to deliver a variety of objects.

Relay is currently being used as a robot butler in Starwood and InterContinental Group hotels.

interactive display at IDF15

Project: RealSense Games

Why it’s Cool: Virtual worlds put players in the center of the action.

What it is: With the help of Intel’s RealSense camera technology, game developers are able to create both virtual reality and augmented reality. In Tanked!, by Design Mill, players build sand barriers to protect against opponent attacks. Players stand on either side of a table (think foosball size) that’s filled with sand. During the game, players use their hands to push around the sand (thus changing the landscape’s topography). This “augmented sandbox” is a new form of interactivity, says creator Alex Schuster. “We get to create digital games using real world objects.”

In Archer Arcade, a game by VR Monkey, players shoot virtual arrows at virtual bullseyes that have been layered on digitally created targets. When people are scanned into the game world, the arrows that “strike them” stick to their virtual avatars.

display at IDF15

Project: Open-source robots

Why it’s Cool: These simple bots prove that anyone can build connected robots that interact with the world.

What it is: Hybrid Group built programmable robots armed with IR air cannons using Intel Edison technology and Cylon.js programmable open source code. Three joysticks are connected to three Bluetooth drivers that, in turn, move the robot’s motors, control the lights and sound effects, and fire the IR cannon.

display at IDF15

Project: RealSense Real World Applications

Why it’s Cool: Intel RealSense technology prevents sleepy drivers from dozing off behind the wheel.

What it is: By scanning a person’s face, the Drowsy Driver software can detect whether a person is falling asleep. If a driver’s eyes close or she starts to yawn, for example, the technology alerts her with an audible command.

display at IDF15

By using several RealSense cameras, a turntable someone could stand on, Cappasity 3D Body Scanning was able to generate a viable body total body scan of a person. The app and technology stitches together multiple vantage points to create one 3D model.

phone at IDF15

Project: Project Tango

Why it’s cool: Users can access 3D mapping and scanning capabilities from their phones.

What it is: Google and Intel partnered up to bring Intel’s RealSense 3D technology and Google’s 3D mapping technology to an Android smartphone. Project Tango’s software kit integrates the two technologies. On stage, Intel’s Craig Raymond demonstrated how the phone could 3D map an entire room in less than a minute. “I truly believe that the potential of this is endless,” Krzanich said.

Many tech experts agreed. “We’re still in the early stages of depth-sensing technology, but it has the potential to improve the way we handle things like indoor mapping, scanning environments or creating VR spaces,” Engadget reported.

Project: Intel Smart Sound Technology

Why it’s cool: It allows your devices to communicate with you, not just at you.

What it is: In line with Krzanich’s assumption that devices will become more sensory, Intel’s Smart Sound technology demonstrated how a device can actually respond to the user’s voice, without needing to be touched first. Krzanich showed that Intel’s Wake-on-Voice, for example, will stir a Window 10 PC to wake up and hear you. “Hey Cortana,” Raymond demonstrated, “play all my music from the Fray.” And the computer obliged.

“This starts to allow you to have a real conversation with your device,” Krzanich said. Wake-on-Voice will be available in Intel processors from Atom to Core.

With #IDF15 in the books, the message is clear: It’s an exciting time for developers and makers. The future is waiting.


Todd Krieger contributed to this story.

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