IDF 2014: Intel Shares Its Plan For Wearables And The Internet Of Things

CEO Brian Krzanich presents ‘smart’ fashion accessories with Intel inside, while SVP Dyane Bryant reminds that all new devices still rely on servers

Wearable technology and the Internet of Things (IoT) were top of the agenda during the first keynote at this year’s Intel Developer Forum (IDF) in San Francisco.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich once again quoted research that estimates there will be 20 billion connected devices around the world by 2020. He showed off some of the recently announced wearable devices powered by Intel technology, before calling on the developers to experiment with the capabilities of new miniature, power-efficient chips.

Data centres that run network services and turn sensor information into insight were the focus for Diane Bryant, Intel’s SVP and general manager of the Data Centre Group. She announced A-Wear, the Big Data platform designed specifically to analyse the data from wearable devices.

Connect all the things!

This year’s IDF started with two interesting examples of wearable technology. The first was a set of sports headphones from SMS Audio – a company founded by Curtis Jackson, better known under his stage name ’50 Cent’ – that double as a heart rate monitor connected to a smartphone. The second was a ‘smart’ bracelet called Mika from high fashion brand Opening Ceremony, essentially a smartwatch aimed at women and set to launch in 2015.

140807_Collier_Schorr_Opening_Ceremony_Shot3_263_07_RGBBoth were presented by Krzanich during the first keynote of IDF in San Francisco – the biggest event on Intel’s calendar. Krzanich talked about the importance of partnerships with an extended number of companies, some of which don’t fall under the description of a traditional hardware manufacturer. He then mentioned Intel’s Edison, a tiny, dual-core SoC that can serve as a foundation for miniature DIY computing projects.

The words about the advent of wearable technology rang especially true on the day when Apple finally took the wraps off its own smartwatch. Next, Intel’s CEO referred to IoT as ‘wearables for machines’ and explained how the company is going to tackle this trend.

“We believe we can grow this business [IoT] within our own organisation at something north of 20 percent per year, now through 2020. The key, though, is that you really have to have ‘edge-to-edge’ solutions. As a developer, what’s important is that you have somebody you can work with, that you can build the ‘edge’ device, that’s out there doing the sensing. That you can attach the right amount of intelligence to that device. That you have a ‘gateway’ to bring that information out of those devices, and back into the data centre,” Krzanich said.

He added that the lack of standards remained a problem for IoT, which the company was trying to solve as a member of two bodies – the Open Interconnect Consortium (OIC) and the Industrial Internet Consortium (IIC). The first is developing open source standards that allow various devices to talk to each other, includes Samsung, but competes with the Qualcomm-led AllSeen Alliance. The second counts AT&T, Cisco, GE and IBM among its members and focuses on industrial applications, rather than consumer technology.

“We can’t think of all of the applications, all of the opportunities that are out there. We want to build products that enable you, that allow you to go build something great,” he said.

Don’t forget the servers

E5-2600_v3_package_shot1The CEO was followed by the company’s vice president, Diane Bryant, who reminded that all of this new technology would require a serious upgrade of the existing infrastructure – her opinion backed up by simple maths.

“You’ve heard Bee-Kay (sic) talk about all of these wonderful, wonderful devices but one thing is clear, these devices are nothing without the data centre. Behind every one of these devices there is a data centre serving up content, making those connections, delivering services.”

“There are 1.9 billion smartphones in the world. On average, each smartphone has 26 apps,” Bryant said. “On average there’s 20 data centre transactions per application per day to get the information, the entertainment, the digital services that you need. This adds up to a trillion transactions per day just for that one device type – transactions that span the gamut in computational intensity. And smartphone transactions will soon be surpassed by wearables.”

She added that all the resulting data will need to be analysed using server-side silicon, and cited Intel’s recently announced partnership with the Michael J Fox Foundation as an example of a project that took advantage of both wearables and analytics.

Bryant revealed that the company is building a “blueprint” cloud for medical research, and announced A-Wear – a cloud-based analytics platform for wearables built with Cloudera’s distribution of Hadoop.

“Developers of Intel wearables, we invite all of you to the programme free of charge, and we invite you to capitalise on what we believe is a tremendous opportunity created by wearables and analytics.

“Our commitment is to provide technology optimised for cloud computing, and for the move to Software-Defined Infrastructure; to create a compelling platform for the creation of analytics solutions, and we commit to continue to invest in Moore’s Law and architectural innovations that accelerate performance.”

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