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IoT module from Intel targets wearable devices

15 Jan 2015  | Jessica Lipsky

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In a keynote at the International CES, Intel Corporation has unleashed Curie, a button-sized module aimed at wearable technology. Curie integrates a Quark SE processor with a Bluetooth Low Energy radio, sensor hub with a "patterned ID engine" and rechargeable or coin-cell battery.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich said Curie, currently a prototype, will be available in the second half of 2015. "Curie can deliver wearables in a range of form factors—rings, bags, bracelets, pendants and even buttons on our jackets. This changes the game of wearables," Krzanich said in his keynote.

Curie comes on the heels of Intel's partnership with Italian eyewear designer Luxottica, which owns several brands including Ray Ban and Oakley. Oakley CEO Colin Haden took the stage shortly after the Curie announcement and hammered home the need for sleek wearables.


Intel's button-sized module, Curie

"As a performance brand we believe integrating smart technology with eyewear is a logical future," he said. "It's important that the form factor compress so that the electronic component does not become burdensome. It should be seamless," he said.

Smart jackets, diversity in the spotlight

Intel also highlighted the capabilities of its RealSense 3D camera sensor that "will change how we experience computing," Krzanich said. RealSense has been integrated into several mobile devices supporting gesture interfaces, sight-based collision avoidance for drones or other capabilities.

Following the introduction of the Curie prototype, Krzanich introduced a smart jacket with RealSense cameras to aid the vision impaired. The jacket prototype, which may or may not have used Curie, used several RealSense cameras and vibration to let a wearer with vision issues know the direction of incoming people or objects.

Smart jacket

Intel's prototype smart jacket for the vision impaired

An Intel engineer with visual denigration discussed how the jacket has affected his life, noting that his condition allows him to see approximately 20 per cent of what a perfectly sighted person sees.

"It's difficult for me to stay engaged in social situations [because of my sight]. With this technology I'm able to more naturally shift my attention to things that matter... [This jacket] can capture the sense around me then transfer that info into subtle vibrations, which basically allows me to fill in the gaps that I've missed. This gives me a sense of comfort and confidence in my environment that I have not felt in a long, long time."

Intel will make the hardware and source code for the jacket available to all developers, Krzanich said.

Separately, Krzanich said Intel will invest $300 million to help "build a pipeline of female and under-represented engineers and computer scientists." The company aims to reach "full representation at all levels" of the workforce by 2020 and promised to improve hiring, progression and retention of these groups. What's more, Krzanich said Intel will tie progress towards this goal to manager's pay.

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