Inside Intel's Hottest Advanced Computing Projects

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Inside Intel's Hottest Advanced Computing Projects

by Chris Preimesberger

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The Wired Brain: The Ultimate Interface to Computers

In a collaborative project with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, Intel is developing a system that reads human neural activity—brain waves—and attempts to use that input to perform tasks. For example, simply thinking an e-mail message and directing it to a friend's e-mail inbox or thinking about turning off the lights at home. The theory is that a machine can perceive brain waves, turn it into data and then use algorithms to get the task done. When might this be ready for prime time? "This is probably 10 years away, at least," an Intel scientist told eWEEK.

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An Even Smarter Car

Intel is developing an end-to-end mobile software platform for cars of the future that connects an on-board system to cloud servers and handheld devices and enables complete integration of office and home systems with the car's electronics. Use cases for the new system include starting the car remotely (ostensibly to warm it up ahead of time on cold days), adjusting the interior environment before getting inside and viewing a video camera installed inside the car. "You can see if the windshield is defrosted yet, for example," an Intel scientist said. "Having a video cam watching the car [when an alarm goes off] and sending video to the cloud—then, to your handheld device—is a pretty good security system, also."

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Impressive Body of Solar Work

This is a collaborative sensing technology for chronically ill people who need continuous monitoring of their heart rate. Today's devices have an average of 10 hours of battery life, which means that patients have to remember to recharge at least twice a day. These solar energy harvesters mounted on an arm or on the body collect sunlight and/or synthetic heat to improve the battery life of these devices. The next page shows how these heat harvesters are recharged.

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Bake for a Few Hours, then Cool

If the sun isn't out, users can simply place their harvesters under heat lamps to recharge them. It can take a few hours for a device to become fully recharged, but this technology is improving as time goes on. Be careful to let them cool off before using, however.

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Creating a Single-Chip Cloud Computer

Here is a powerful 48-core, single-chip cloud computer for scientific research. This experimental system contains the most Intel cores ever integrated onto a single CPU. It integrates cloud system features such as packet-based mesh networking and support for message-passing programming models right into the silicon. Intel labs in the United States, Germany and India are developing this.

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The Single 48-Core Cloud Computing Chip

Hard to believe that all that computing power is contained in a mere 2-inch-by-2-inch piece of silicon, but it's all right there. This transistor-intensive chip is still years away from commercial use.

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Always-on Travel Adviser

The Mobile Context Aware Software and Services Project is investigating ways to capture and share contextual information while protecting the user's privacy and the security of the collected data. This demo showed a partnership with Fodor's which deployed a Personal Vacation Assistant for the use of about 25 tourists visiting New York City. Users' experiences were captured in the device, uploaded to the cloud and, at the user's discretion, blog-type items were posted on the Web. In this case, users noted that construction at the Empire State Building was slowing up the line of people waiting to go upstairs.

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Holographic Vehicle Design

This is a projected augmented reality device for enabling collaborative real-time prototype design of products, such as automobiles. The device, called the Holodeck, shoots a three-dimensional item, such as a model car, and turns it into a 3D, CAD-type computer-model drawing that can be shared on the Web among project staff members. It works in seconds, speeding up the design process.

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Augmented Reality

Intel demonstrated its Mobile Augmented Reality World Browser on the company's latest Atom platform. This allows a user to access information on the Web simply by clicking the camera shutter. The system identifies landmarks on the fly through a geo-positioning system, compute-intensive visual search and power-efficient sensors. Thus, by photographing the Golden Gate Bridge, information—such as the year it was completed (1937), the number of cars that cross it per year (about 41 million), and the height of its towers (500 feet above the roadway)—automatically shows up on the browser and can be added to the photo itself.

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Cloud Control Central

A collaborative grid-type computing project among Intel, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo called the OpenCirrus Project is designed to create an open standards-based, Internet-scale test bed for advancing cloud-computing research. The project has 10 sites worldwide. The sharing of the vast computing resources owned by the three large companies in the "Making Big Data Interactive" subproject enables the creation and testing of new software tools to make scalable analysis of massive data sets as simple as using a spreadsheet. Other research projects using the grid are also under way. This photo shows all the grids nodes and their status inside the system.

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Yahoo Widgets for Home Use

Yahoo's new Widget TV is software embedded into CE devices made by Samsung, Sony, LG and Vizio that enables control of content and applications as you would see on a laptop or handheld device. You can easily check your e-mail, Facebook or Twitter accounts; upload photos or video to YouTube, Webshots and Flickr; or do any number of other things using this platform. Widget TV already has a community of about 7,000 developers working on apps, Yahoo said.

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Robot Butler

As people live longer and the population generally grows older, Intel sees a growing need for what it calls "assistive" technologies for home use. Personal Robotics is a project that is developing algorithms for perception, planning and learning that enable robots to perform useful tasks on their own—despite cluttered home environments. HERB, developed with the Quality of Life Technology Center and Carnegie Mellon University, is a fully autonomous mobile manipulator that can be taught to perform a number of household tasks so that humans don't have to do them.

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