The Intel Christmas Showroom is traditionally held a couple of months before the start of the holiday season, showcasing technologies and touch devices that will be coming your way soon.
This year, all the talk is of 6th Generation Intel Core processors — thinner laptops and versatile 2 in 1 devices, all delivering two and a half times the performance of the previous generation, reduced energy consumption and optimised for Windows 10.
What’s important about the new Intel Core processors is that they make computing more personal, bringing the real world and the digital world closer together. They also support new technologies like RealSense, Windows Hello and wireless displays (WiDi).
Intel® RealSense is a combination of hardware, software and, most importantly, a 3D camera that allows developers to integrate hand and finger motion tracking, facial analysis, voice recognition, augmented reality and background segmentation into their applications.
Background segmentation determines what parts of a video image are in the background, what are in the foreground and where objects are in relation to a person’s shoulder, hand and face. This means that, by taking depth into account, it allows you to segment parts of the video image and remove them, replace them or improve them with algorithms, all in real time.
Why is it important to distinguish between elements in a video? Such technology could transform video conferences — users will be able to change or delete the background as they please. The result will be a virtual environment that, for example, fosters productivity in a business meeting or allows us to chat with friends without having to worry about the state of our room.
The Intel RealSense 3D camera also lets you control compatible devices using hand/head gestures or facial expressions, and also serves to change the focus of a photo after taking it. It’s even able to take measurements (like the height of the Eiffel Tower, which always appears in photos from trips to Paris).
At the Intel Christmas Showroom, I was surrounded by ASUS, HP, Acer, Dell and Lenovo laptops with Intel RealSense 3D cameras, as well as Lenovo, Dell and HP all-in-one devices. But what I liked most was a demo by Norberto Mateos, regional Director for Southern Europe, showing how RealSense works with Windows Hello.
Windows Hello lets you log in to a Windows 10 device using biometric sensors (for example, a fingerprint reader or a camera that recognizes your face or iris). During the demo, Norberto Mateos logged in to a Windows 10 device that recognized his face, but then really put it to the test by putting on glasses, a wig and even holding up a large photo of his face.
In the first two instances, wearing the glasses and the wig, he was able to log in immediately because the Intel RealSense 3D camera keeps in mind that your hair may grow or that you may have to wear glasses sometimes. It focuses on other, more defining, facial features. And it wasn’t fooled by the photo.
Examples of Intel RealSense technology will soon be everywhere. Developers aren’t just working with Windows and Android, but also with other platforms including Mac OS X, Linux, OSVR, Unreal Engine 4 and Project Tango.
Although 6th Generation Intel Core processors and Intel RealSense technology monopolised most of the Intel Christmas Showroom, they weren’t the only technologies on display.
I was also impressed by Intel’s mission to evolve wireless computing, thanks to initiatives such as WiDi and Pro WiDi. As of summer 2016, it’s clear that the last cable standing, the power cord, will start to disappear as wireless charging technologies take over.