Intel Paints Sci-Fi Picture of the Future

Mari Silbey —  January 6, 2014

Intel 3D camera

Call me a Sci-Fi nut, but I’m a sucker for stories about human/brain interfaces, virtual reality, and the coming Singularity. And Intel’s press conference hit every one of those trigger points at CES this afternoon. Senior VP Mooly Eden described blended devices where brain and machine are physically linked together and said he believes it’s a matter of “when” not “if” that vision becomes a reality.

Eden also alluded to Kurzweil’s Singularity theory that computers will surpass human intelligence in the coming decades. According to Eden’s calculations, silicon will have more transistors than the brain has neurons in only a dozen more years.

While the presentation was heavily aspirational, however, Eden also offered several concrete developments from Intel for the pragmatists in the audience. Eden introduced RealSense technology, a family of hardware and software products that Intel is designing to make human/machine interactions more natural. The first product being offered in this new category is an embedded 3D camera that’s “thinner than a Vegas chip.” The camera captures images in multiple layers and distinguishes objects in the foreground and background of a scene. In demos, Intel showed how the camera can support applications for video production, video calls, gaming, and education.

Eden also announced a new partnership with 3DSystems for 3D printing applications. For that news, Intel brought 3DSystems CEO Avi Reichental on stage. Reichentel didn’t explain much about what the partnership is aiming for, but there were hints about 3D-printed food, and Eden promised more detail in an Intel keynote address later today.

Eden also showed natural language processing and gesture-based controls during his presentation, and ended with an award-winning application that lets users create music jams just by using their voices and hand movements.

The final word from Eden went back to the visionary level. “We finally remove the fiction from science fiction,” said Eden. Count me in.

Note: More pictures coming when I get a better Internet connection…