Intel CEO Brian Krzanich made the most of his first appearance as International CES‘ lead keynote speaker — the gee-whiz presentation. Saying that we’re entering “a new era of computing,” he introduced several intriguing devices that he promised will all be available this year. He also brought up DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg to talk up the value of enhanced computing power for moviemaking. But most significantly, he announced that Intel’s new processors will no longer include minerals from mines in the Congo that have been at the center of fighting there that has resulted in millions of deaths, making it the deadliest war since World War II. “Every microprocessor will be conflict-free,” he says.
The new product introductions began with Intel’s smart ear buds that can tell runners their pace, where they are, how far they’ve gone, and their heart rates — just drawing power from a smartphone’s mic jack. There’s an earpiece called Jarvis that enables the user to speak instructions to a smart device — for example, ordering it to find a particular kind of restaurant and make reservations — with natural-sounding speech and responses. It also will work with existing personal assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Google Now. In addition, Intel is powering a smart watch that doesn’t have to be tethered to another mobile device. Among other things, when kids wear it, it can use geo-fencing to tell parents whether they’ve deviated from the right route to a destination and whether they’ve arrived on time.
The company also unveiled Edison, a chip that has the power of a Pentium-class PC including WiFi, Bluetooth, and an app store that will be available midyear. Among other things, it can be attached to a baby’s onesie and communicate information showing temperature, pulse, and breathing — and automatically start a bottle warmer if the child is agitated. The devices can be recharged by being dropped into a smart charging bowl. Intel also will partner with Barneys New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and retailer Opening Ceremony to make wearable technologies more fashionable. “You’ll see more and more partnerships as we develop more and more technologies.” Intel also announced a contest, called Make It Wearable, that offers $1.3M in prizes and will give the top 10 contenders opportunities to work with the company to bring their product to market. The Intel chief said the company will offer McAfee security software free for all its consumer mobile devices. “We believe this is critical to enable this ecosystem.”
Krzanich also says that Intel will power Dual OS Platform computers that, with the push of a button, can switch between Windows and Android. The company wants to help companies find new uses for smart devices. The CEO noted that Applebee’s is replacing its menus with 100,000 tablets — giving customers the opportunity to check the menu, place orders, and pay bills without waiting for a waiter. Table turnover was 20% faster than normal, and tips increased 15%, he says.