Intel demos robot, wireless advancements

August 21, 2008 7:12:16 PM PDT
Intel has thrown off the wraps shrouding some of its top secret research projects. It has technology in the pipeline that is going to make life a lot easier around the house.

Robots are fun to watch, but up to now, they have relied on humans to tell them what to do. That is not the case anymore with the next generation of robots Intel and its researchers are working on.

Sensors, not cameras, help a robot to identify objects. It is a major step toward introducing robots in the home where the location of people and objects cannot easily be predicted.

"The hope is a sensor like this can help us sense the environment and gain information about it that will help us operate in these uncertain environments," says Intel engineer Louis LeGrand.

Intel engineers are also working on a different kind of robot that uses cameras to find and move objects. A robot could help people load or unload the dishwasher, for example.

Now consider this. Wireless re-charging of your laptop or mobile phone or a light bulb that gets its power from two feet away -- no cords.

"Because we're using magnetic fields, they don't interact with the body. These are fairly low, like MRI machines are very, very large, 1,000 times more powerful than this," says Intel graduate student intern Alanson Sample.

Faster computing is also on the horizon thanks to the use of laser beams and fiber optics instead of copper wires. This is still 10 years off, but when it is ready, engineers say it will be revolutionary.

"Forty gigabits per second is one DVD in a second. One terabit per second is 25 times that. And if you can transmit that kind of information to a network, it's going to change everything," says Intel graduate student intern Brian Koch, Ph.D.

And all of this will eventually be available to consumers.

While cutting edge technology has a way of seeming a bit far-fetched, it is clear that Intel is focused on practical technology. It is technology that will have a profound effect on our future lives.

For more on Intel's technology pipleline, read The Back Story.


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