A look at some of the technology Intel currently has in active R&D shows ways to save energy within the data center or PC and new ways to recharge laptop batteries while on the road. Intel says many of these developing technologies are years away from being rolled out in final form.
provided a look at some new technologies in its R&D pipeline, and a few
notable ones focus on saving energy or finding new ways to transmit it to
laptops and other portable devices.
On display during a Feb. 25 presentation here was an early prototype of a WREL
(Wireless Resonant Energy Link). Although currently in its simplest
proof-of-concept form, with several loops of copper wire connected to what
looked like a battery, the device will theoretically charge nearby laptop
batteries wirelessly via magnetic fields.
Intel is still designing the device for the laptop that will receive the
energy generated by the WREL, but the company says it is working toward 90
percent efficiency in wireless energy transmission. With power packs,
efficiency currently stands at around 70 percent.
During the presentation, a light bulb connected to a construct of copper
wiring substituted for a theoretical laptop energy receiver; placed within
three feet of the WREL station, the bulb burned brightly, only to darken once
it was removed to a greater distance.
An effective WREL setup could have fairly substantial enterprise
applications. For business travelers, the possibility of being able to charge a
laptop battery simply by walking into a particular area of a hotel or airport
lounge is a welcome one. A WREL station installed in a wall or at a central
office hub could conceivably power nearby workers' devices cordlessly.
"The technology is maybe five years away," said David Meyer of the
Intel Corporate Technology Group, who gave the presentation. There may be an
active demo with a laptop around a year from now, he said.
Also at the presentation, Intel unveiled what it terms Platform Power
Management, which looks at ways to cut back power use by hardware architecture
beyond the microprocessor chip. Intel aims to reduce power consumption by a
wide range of devices, including handhelds and servers.
Thanks to the technological tinkering, some portable devices may be seeing
increased energy efficiency within two years. The company declined to comment
on a time frame for the rollout of these more energy-efficient hardware
One of the energy innovations will involve screens. "Normally, screens
refresh 60 times per second," Manny Vara of the Intel Corporate Technology
Group said during the presentation. "It takes energy to have the system
continuously redrawing that screen." New technology would "grab an
image from the frame buffer and put it up on the screen until there's some
movement" from the user, he said.
The possibility of screen burnout under such circumstances is, apparently,
not a concern.
Intel anticipates a 30 to 50 percent reduction in energy usage thanks to the
more efficient designs, presenters said.
Intel unveiled a host of other future technologies at the presentation, and
included one device currently on the market: the Intel Health Guide, a friendly-looking
white box with a screen that allows patients to check their recent health
history, be reminded of when they need to take certain drugs, and participate
in video conferences with their physician via a camera integrated into the
Intel's Digital Health Group has been engaging in fieldwork and collecting
data in order to create digital networks that it says will allow health care
providers to better manage-and possibly build solutions for-everything from
nurse workflow to disease paths.
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.