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Intel’s Krzanich Wows CES Crowd With Wearable Tech

CES 2014 Las Vegas – Intel CEO Brian Krzanich followed his engineer’s instinct and gave an old-fashioned, nuts and bolts pre-International CES keynote Monday, revealing a string of technologies Intel has developed and promised that most will see be available in 2014.

Krzanich address was light on celebrities and flash, but he gave the packed-house audience an inside look at what Intel has been working on and believes will be important in the near future.

His main focus was wearable devices that take the concept to the next level.

“We asked ourselves why aren’t wearables everywhere,” he said. Answering his own question, he said the reason is most wearables are not stand-alone devices requiring interaction with another gadget to work and are not solving real-world problems.

Intel’s answer is to make everything smart, Krzanich said. The first device he showed based on this assumption is called Jarvis. It is an earpiece that acts as a personal assistant. The wearer can ask it questions, and it will work in a similar fashion to Apple’s Siri.

He also showed “smart” ear buds that can charge off the attached phone and single-handedly keep track of various fitness activities, and a “smart charging bowl” where devices are deposited and charged conductively. A smart watch was also shown that has all the basic smart-watch functionality but adds geo-fencing. This is the ability to monitor the wearer’s location and operate in conjunction with a set time frame. Krzanich said, to many laughs, that the watch could note that a teen was expected to arrive at a certain location at a set time, and if this did not take place, a message would be sent to the parent.

To push wearables to the next level, Krzanich said Intel is partnering with retailers Barney’s and Opening Ceremony and the fashion trade association CFDA.

The next wearable device uses what Intel has dubbed its Edison processor. It is a 22 nanometer, dual-core Quark system-on-a-chip that contains built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, runs on Linux, and is built into an SD card.

Edison allows an entirely new level of interactivity in a wearable, Krzanich said. He showed a development called Nursery 2.0. Using an Edison processor that’s built into a device, called a Smart Turtle, that is embedded in an infant onesy, a parent can receive notifications when the child is too warm, cold and has awoken. Krzanich showed the crowd an example of what is possible that included the onesy, a coffee cup and bottle warmer, all using an Edison processor. The example had the baby crying, which sent a signal to the parent’s cup. The cup lit up, indicating the problem with the child, and sent a signal to the bottle warmer to turn on if the child was awake.

To boost the wearable market, Krzanich announced the Make It Wearable contest. This will offer $1.3 million in prizes to developers who come up with winning ideas. First place will take home $500,000, and the top 10 will be hooked up with industry leaders who will help develop their idea.

Krzanich also noted the security concerns surrounding wearables and said to help allay fears and fix the problem, Intel will offer free McAfee security for mobile devices later this year.

“This will allow the ecosystem to flourish,” he noted.

In a nod to what is expected at a CES keynote address, Krzanich did bring out Dreamworks CEO Jeffery Katzenberg, who discussed his company’s partnership with Intel and the continual growing need for computing power to make films. He closed with a short trailer for the Dreamwork’s film “Mr. Peobody and Sherman.”