Intel Details Haswell Improvements, Gesture Controls and Mobile All-in-Ones

Today at Intel's Developer Forum, Intel's Client Computing GM Kirk Skaugen gave a presentation on client computing where he provided further details on the company's upcoming Haswell computing platform and its focus on new perceptive computing technologies like touch, gesture and voice.

Skaugen started by talking about Intel's commitment to user testing, saying the company interviews 220,000 people a year. In recent tests of every day tasks like sufing the web, he noted, users chose touch over keyboard and mouse 80 percent of the time.

He then showed a video with some of these interviews where users said how much they liked swiping and touching the screen. However, most users in the video said they preferred keyboards for typing. "We've done survey after survey after survey since CES and Computex and this [touch] is testing off the charts," he said.

Skaugen said that Intel is investing in improving the capacity and quality of touch screens. He also said he expects the delta between touch and non-touch notebooks to be about $100.

All Day Battery Life and Wireless Charging

He said, with the Haswell CPU, Intel intends to double the battery life over today's Ultrabooks. Skaugen also said that Intel is committed to eliminating all wires so users can charge wirelessly. he said. With Haswell notbooks, he said, uses will be able to charge their peripherals (phones, mice, etc) wirelessly when they're placed close to the notebook.

Voice Commands

Skaugen then talked about the Dragon Assistant beta that will be available on Ultrabooks. The first PC OEM to utilitize this design is Dell with its XPS 13 and other vendors will be given whiteboxes to learn how to use this software on their notebooks. The software is particularly compelling because it works offline and doesn't need to access the cloud to interpret what you said.

Skaugen also announced the Intel Perceptual Computing SDK Beta which is a free developer kits that enables features like face and finger tracking, 2D/3D augmented reality and speech recognition. The kit will be available for download strating today, he said.

The SDK supports a new feature called close-range depth tracking that recognizes how far your fingers and hands are from the screen. It also provides 7 landmark facial analysis so a system can't be fooled by holding a picture in front of the screen.

Gesture Controls

Skaugen then showed off Creative Lab's infrared gesture tracking camera that will be available to developers starting next month and the general public in 2013. Using this kit, he showed how gesture controls can power educational software like an interactive solar system model and games like a harry Potter spell casting app.


He then talked about the proliferation of the Ultrabooks, saying there are now 70 models in the market, with 40 touch models on the way. He also said that there are now Ultrabooks that cost under $600.

In 2013, he said, there will be over 140 Ultrabooks in the market. He then showed off an NEC Lavie Ultrabook that weighs a mere 868 grams (1.91 pounds).

He said that Intel's Identity Protection Technology will help make ecommerce payments both simple and secure. Because the system knows who you are, he said, you won't have to answer as many security questions on your favorite web sites.

Convertibles and Touch Notebooks

"We're having this collusion of notebooks and Ultrabooks with smartphones and tablets," he said. He spoke about the proliferation of Ultrabook convertibles such as the Dell XPS Duo 12 and the IdeaPad Yoga.

He said that Intel studied convertibles by giving them to dozens of users around the globe and found that 44 percent of them wanted a convertbile, 22 percent wanted a tablet and 31 percent wanted a notebook with a touch screen.

Haswell Preview

Skaugen then talked about Haswell's improvements, including its ability to support 4K displays, ability to support DirectX and all day support. He said the processor's graphics will support something called "collage display" which lets you use three physical monitors as one large virtual monitor. Haswell will also enable multiple levels of graphics with different execution levels to scale up and down graphics performance.

He said Haswell will support SmartConnect which grabs your email and social networking updates, even while your notebook is asleep. "It's a lot more than just thin and light," he said of the new platform.

The new anti-theft technology will allow you to hardware lock a lost notebook so nobody will be able to access your data. Haswell Ultrabooks will also use all kinds of location services (3G, 4G< Wi-Fi, etc) to help you find your lost device.

Wattage and Power Management

With Haswell (4th Gen Intel Core Series), the typical Ultabook CPU will go from 17 watts to 10 watts. Intel will accomplish this feat by making the chipset part of the processor package. That should double system battery life, Skaugen said.

Intel will target these lower-power CPUs to convertibles, because they can be thinner and lighter than traditional notebooks.

Adaptive All-in-Ones

Skaugen talked about a new category of all-in-one desktops called "Adaptive All-in-Ones," notebooks that have detachable screens you can fold flat or take around the house. He demonstrated the Sony VAIO Tap 20, a large screen all-in-one with a touch screen that folds flat and can be carried around the house so families can draw together and use other communal apps.