Intel Maps Out Touchy-Talky Ultrabook Future

Intel announced the Intel Perceptual Computing Software Development Kit, which will let devs bring gesture interaction, facial and voice recognition, and augmented reality features to Intel Core processor-based Ultrabook systems and PCs, on Tuesday. This will be released early next quarter.

Intel Vice President David Perlmutter, who made the announcement, also said new low-power processors starting with the chip giant’s 4th generation Core processor family will power its Ultrabooks in the future.

Intel featured its Haswell microprocessor, which reduces idle power by more than 20 times over its second-generation processors, at the Intel Developer Forum (IDF), being held in San Francisco.

New low-power chips based on the Haswell microarchitecture will initially operate around 10 W to improve performance and battery life.

Further, Intel announced a new system on a chip (SOC) codenamed Clover Trail that’s a next-generation Atom processor designed specifically for Windows 8.

Talking to One’s PC

Intel is bringing voice recognition to its Ultrabooks. It demoed a Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook running Nuance’s Dragon Assistant Beta optimized for Intel Core processors. Dell will make the software available in the United States next quarter, in the XPS 13.

Perlmutter called for support from devs for the company’s perceptual computing SDK.

“They’re going to do [voice recognition] on the existing Intel Core machine — the XPS 13 — and then they’ll do it for other 3rd generation Core processors and for the Haswell,” Bob O’Donnell, a program vice president at IDC, told TechNewsWorld. “Essentially, Intel will buy the technology from Nuance and sell it to the OEMs who will, in turn, offer it to users, at no cost to the end user net/net.”

The demo with the Dell XPS 13 “worked really well,” Jeff Orr, a senior practice director at ABI Research, told TechNewsWorld.

The technology itself is not new, but “having it available on a system that could converge the laptop and tablet experience [as convertible Ultrabooks do] removes any of the differences that may have been seen as exclusive to fun and productivity on mobile devices,” Orr continued.

Intel will “certify every system that wishes to offer the voice assistant before it can ship,” Orr stated. “This guarantees a minimum user experience that all parties deem acceptable.”

Haswell No Has-Been

Intel CEO Paul Otellini first announced the Haswell processor last year at IDF 2011, and the company put up a video of the processor on YouTube at the time.

Tuesday’s announcement “quantified the power savings next year’s systems would offer,” Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, told TechNewsWorld. “It’s basically a halving of Core system power requirements and a 95 percent reduction in at-rest power usage.”

Kirk Skaugen of Intel’s PC group, said that the combination of low power requirements and the power boost would let OEMs reinvent the PC to include new features, among which will be touch, King pointed out. “If they deliver as advertised, next year’s Ultrabooks will look very different than this year’s systems.”

Getting Ready for Win 8

“A lot of the sensor functionality available with Haswell and the new Perception SDK will enable apps to be developed that can dovetail into Windows 8 experiences for navigation, general productivity, and new class that were not possible before,” ABI’s Orr suggested.

Further, the Clover Trail SOC will power lightweight tablets and convertible products, Perlmutter said.

Perlmutter’s speech “suggested Intel is pushing out current-generation Ultrabooks and preparing developers with the tools necessary to enable touch-based Ultrabooks and incremental form factors,” Orr remarked. “Customers exposed to the various keyboard/mouse, touch tablet, and touch convertible Ultrabooks are favoring the touch experience.”

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