Wearables Need To Be Not Just Smart, But Connected – Intel

Intel expert describes how the physical and digital worlds are coming increasingly closer

The most successful wearable technology devices will be those that are the most connected, an Intel spokesperson has said.

Speaking today at the Wearable Technology Show in London, the UK’s first ever event dedicated to wearable technology, Intel chief futurist and strategist Steve Brown said that the link between the physical and digital worlds is closer than ever before, stating that “people use technology to help them be their best selves”.

“The physical world and the digital world are coming together,” Brown said in his keynote address at the event. “They are getting ever closer, and it is this megatrend that is changing the modern way that we live – slowly, the digital world is creeping its tendrils into the world we live in”.

Intel Steve Brown wearable technologyA link to the past

However, wearables will only become truly successful when they do the things that people really care about, Brown said, and there is much work still to be done in developing the technology.

The most successful wearable devices will be those which are the most connected, Brown believes, as many devices won’t deliver great functionality on their own, so the need to provide a great user experience with a variety of different services is paramount.

Drawing a parallel between modern wearable technology devices such as Google Glass and medieval armour, wristwatches and eyeglasses, Brown highlighted how history tells us that wearables do more work for us than perhaps we realise. Designers need to continue to look to the past as well as the future in order to further develop wearable technology, he said, adding that many devices out today have yet to offer the experience and services users really want or need.

Showing off a photo of an Intel processor that was the same size as a grain of rice, Brown revealed that this product was actually from five years ago, as he then moved on to discuss the company’s recent move towards 22nm technology as computing as a whole becomes smaller and smaller.

“This is the key thing that is enabling us now to think about computers becoming wearable,” he said, adding that Intel is looking to reveal its 14nm technology later this year, with 10nm, 7nm and 5nm technology following in the future.

Talk this way

The rise of wearable technology also means that humans need to come up with a new way to ‘talk’ to computers, Brown believes. Having moved on from punch cards and magnetic tape to keyboards and mice, to the modern proliferation of touch interfaces, Brown says we now need ‘a whole new language’ for wearable devices.

Intel Edison PC CES 2014

Intel also believes that this decade will see a big breakthrough in computing, according to Brown, as it will bring in the first era of computers that are able to ‘see’ the world much like humans do, understanding people and objects as well as the relationships between them. This is what is needed to usher in self-driving cars and advanced robotics, Brown said.

Brown believes that we are approaching the moment when anything can be turned into a computer, thanks to this era of micro-sized computing.  He demonstrated applications of the company’s Edison system, revealed at CES,  including sewing it into clothing to measure the health of a baby, or implanting it into a coffee mug to show the heat of the liquid inside.

Intel has big plans for Edison, described as “a full Pentium-class PC in the form factor of an SD card” by company CEO Brian Krzanich at CES. Brown says that such technology will be crucial to the designers of next-generation wearable devices, acting as the building blocks for them to construct their ideas around. The influx of more and more wearable devices will lead to a new wave of experimentation, he believes, but adopting technology such as Edison as an industry standard will help regulate this and even potentially cut down on staffing costs.

The company also recently launched its Make It Wearable competition, which looks at supporting new breakthroughs in the computing world. Open now, $500,000 is on offer to the winners of the competition, with a total prize fund of $1.3m set to grab the interest of designers and developers all over the world.

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