Analyst Opinion - Intel held its Lab showcase at the Silicon Valley Computer History Museum this week. While many of the things shown may not make it to market, it is enticing to look at a future world that would exist if all those ideas and technologies became available. In any case, this may provide a view of what the developed Intel world may look like in 2020.
Episode 1: Starting the day in 2020
I start my day by checking my personal sensor net and switching on my Atom-based pocket PC. Not only does it show me my email, but it lists the TV programs I had scheduled and are now taped and ready to watch, it displays the latest news as well as a broad cross section of my home on personal security cameras and fully interfaces into my home PC, which is hidden somewhere in my house.
The device alerts me that I seem to be getting angry and that this is likely because I am anticipating a morning meeting with a co-worker who has, based on a history file the hand held has created, aggravated me every time we have met. It suggests breathing exercises and links me to a picture of my dog as a puppy to change my attitude.
As I walk through the house toward my home office, I stop and in front of my (large) flat panel TV (wirelessly connected to a central PC) noticing breaking news. My hand held Pc is already aware of this news and turns into a super remote that enables me to find the topics I’m interested in and select those stories I want to follow during the day.
Once I have reached my office, a big display opens several windows and the central computer in my house has connected to a number of services that monitor my kids, my aging parents, my financial holdings, local traffic and weather, and key news events. It red flags an item that showcases my son is under a great deal of personal stress and it cross references his calendar to suggest this is likely due to his upcoming prom and the fact he doesn’t have a date yet. I think of sending a quick IM to his handheld in encouragement, but decide not to because it likely would stress him out further, and instead buy two tickets to the new Batman/Superman movie and put them in his electronic account along with $100 for dinner to help get him moving.
Episode 2: Mid-day gaming
At 11am, an alert shows up on my screen telling me that my blood sugar is getting low and I should eat something. I walk to my kitchen and the display there connects to my central computer, which now knows I’m in the kitchen and likely wanting to eat. It knows what I prefer and that I’m trying to control my weight and therefore suggests, based on my refrigerator inventory and my personal likes, a tasty meal. I ignore the suggestion and warm a slice of left over Pizza in the microwave oven instead. Noting the increase in carbs my handheld computer beeps and the screen suggests I drink some fruit juice to keep my energy up and avoid having to take a nap, given I don’t have the time today.
After. lunch my first meeting is set up and ready to go in my office which has now become a telepresence location. Using off-premise windows server technology, one of my oldest friends is already on my computer screen wondering where I’ve been (as always, I’m running a little late). He knew this because his computer reminded him I’m always about 5 minutes late to our meetings. He suggests that while we are discussing business we take a short quest with our World of Warcraft characters and I decide I’d rather do that from the living room.
His image and the game along with my voice connection are transferred to my handheld as I leave my office – and to the TV as I am entering the living room. As we catch up on business, we are having a massive multiplayer battle and I remark how amazing it is that there is no longer any latency because the game is not running locally but centrally on a group of closely coupled servers that stream the video to our computers. My friend isn’t doing as well as he normally does and when I comment on this he laughs and points out that he is actually in a cab on his way to a resort in Barbados and the scenery around him is a significant distraction. His wireless connection, using WiMax, has transparently transferred from node to node and I never realized he was traveling.
His taxi driver has a new Intel in car navigation system which uses a heads up display and highlights potential threats. Not a bad investment, since, apparently, there is a bathing suit beauty contest going on and if the system hadn’t alerted him to the car stopped in front of him my buddy likely would have had a surprise visit to the front seat of the cab.
After we are killed by a particularly nasty group of game-generated dragons we take a break to discuss what has been a huge increase in security problems. We aren’t that worried though, because your systems are using hardware based anti-malware features of Intel’s VPro platform which accelerates scans and has proven to be very resilient even against root kits.
Read on the next page: Evening and family, Wrapping up
Episode 3: Evening and family
Towards the end of the day, my wife and I get together to watch some of the programs that the central system has captured and comment that John Stewart’s Avatar, amazingly enough, is a lot funnier than John himself was on the virtual Daily Show. Tonight he is interviewing some clueless technology analyst and I am so glad I’m not that guy.
While watching the show, an alert shows up on the screen indicating that my mother’s Parkinson’s symptoms seem to be worsening and suggesting that this is likely because she is building tolerance to her medication. My wife sends a quick email to my mother’s doctor asking for an update and the hospital’s computer system sends an immediate response indicating they are already on this and it was actually because she had stopped taking her pills, because they were making her ill and they are already in the process of changing her medication.
We decide to pause the TV program and check in on her. She wants to chat with the kids and fortunately they are all available and link in on their hand held computers. Evidently they are, for once, all together and they put their handhelds on the table causing them to link and collectively form a much larger display, though it kind of screws up the camera angle and we can no longer consistently see their faces. My eldest tells the story of his school report where he simply walked up to the projector in the class and it automatically took the image off his handheld and projected it to the class wall. His report was on fuel cells, which were finally going to come to market, and how they would revolutionize handheld computing. I thought, wow, if only they had arrived in time to save the iPhone.
This was only a snapshot of some of the things that Intel showcased at the Computer history museum and some, like the gaming component, are actually on their way - in that case from a company Trion that is working with the Sci-Fi channel and HP to make this a reality for Battlestar Gallactica fans before the end of the decade.
I don’t think we fully comprehend the collective impact that technologies like this will have on us over the next decade or so anymore than we realized how big an impact PCs would have on our lives in the early 80s. Privacy, security, piece of mind all will be greatly changed and information access will clearly be vastly improved, hoping we then think that this was a good thing.
Rob Enderle is one of the last Inquiry Analysts. Inquiry Analysts are paid to stay up to date on current events and identify trends and either explain the trends or make suggestions, tactical and strategic, on how to best take advantage of them. Currently he provides his services to most of the major technology and media companies.