Intel looks beyond chip roots with drones, robots at CES

The company unveils a hoverboard-cum-robot, a portable drone and its plans to combat online harassment.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich takes the stage at CES 2016 on a hoverboard that doubles as a personal robot.

James Martin//CNET

Intel has long dominated the chip world but has ambitions to move far beyond processors.

The Santa Clara, California-based company on Tuesday revealed plans underscoring three trends its CEO says are shaping the future: connecting ordinary devices to the Internet, giving tech human-like senses and making tech ultra-personal.

"Almost every part of life that we enjoy today is powered by technology," Brian Krzanich noted in his keynote speech at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

One of his most interesting demos was a Segway hoverboard that transforms into a personal robot. Krzanich, who entered the stage on a seemingly innocuous hoverboard, later revealed that the device transforms into a personal robot for smart homes.

The robot's tech is open platform, meaning anyone can build on it. The robot features voice recognition and streaming video via an Intel RealSense 3D camera, which also helps it maneuver around obstacles. The robot's developer release, expected in the second half of 2016, will allow inventors to create new uses and applications for the robot.

"We believe this is the beginning of a new ecosystem, one where robots can actually be open platforms and become useful partners," Krzanich said.

Intel also jumped into the drone market with the introduction of the Yuneec Typhoon H, a commercial drone that uses the RealSense 3D camera. ("Yuneec" is pronounced "unique.") The drone features collapsible propellers, retractable landing gear, a 4K camera, and a controller with a display that lets the pilot see what the drone is seeing in real time.

Intel is also entering the augmented-reality zone with the Daqri Smart Helmet, a hardhat that likewise uses the RealSense 3D camera to offer a form of augmented reality, taking you to virtual worlds or adding layers of information to the real one. The hardhat offers a type of X-ray vision, for example, letting a worker see through pipes that may be faulty. The device can also be used to give workers instructions while they're doing manual labor.

Intel is working on other wearables as well, seeking to snag athletes with Radar Pace smart sunglasses developed with Oakley that offer a voice-activated coaching system. The eyewear is designed to give real-time feedback and track the progress of an athlete. It's part of a broader deal with Italian eyewear giant Luxottica Group.

New Balance CEO Robert DeMartini, meanwhile, joined Krzanich to announce that the Boston-based athletic apparel company will develop a smart sports watch for the next holiday-shopping season.

Intel has more than just gadgets on its mind. Krzanich used his speech to highlight Intel's efforts to increase diversity in its workforce. He said 43 percent of Intel's new hires last year were women and minorities.

He also revealed plans to try to stop online harassment. Krzanich said he will discuss the effort during an event Thursday with partners, including Vox Media, Recode and Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation.

"We must remember that behind every device, every game, every connection, is a real person," he said.

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