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Intel's Live Large vision for mobile phones

The Carry Small Live Large plan focuses on sensors and is one of the company's "four or five big bets" for upcoming tech trends. (From ZDNet Australia) • IDF: Intel trots out wireless chips, discusses eight cores)

SHANGHAI--Intel has set its technicians working on a new initiative that it hopes will get mobile devices piggybacking on other devices its users may come across, as well as making use of the increasing number of sensors--such as cameras and GPS--within the device itself.

The Carry Small Live Large plan is one of the company's "four or five big bets" for upcoming technology trends, with engineers working on new methods to use the applications available on mobile phones in ways that aren't dependent on the form factor of the device itself.

"Devices come near a lot of other electronic devices...they don't talk to one another, don't interact that much. (Mobile phones') very limited capability isn't really a good match for what people want to do," said Kevin Kahn, director of Intel's Communications Technology Lab.

According to Kahn, speaking Tuesday at the Intel Developer Forum here, mobiles should be taking advantage of the devices around them: for example, detecting whenever a more appropriate display is in range, from a projector to the screen in the back of an aircraft seat.

Engineers at Intel's research labs are experimenting with different methods of enabling communication between displays and mobiles, including remote graphics rendering and frame buffer compression. "They're complementary approaches," Kahn added.

Researchers are also looking at the architectural challenges of multiradio devices--phones that can connect to GPS, 3G, 2G, Wi-Fi, WiMax, Bluetooth, UWB, and any number of other wireless standards--with a view to ultimately combining all the radio components into one single element to cut the space that silicon takes up within the device and shrink mobile form factors.

However, for this to be commercially viable, it will necessitate 32-nanometer architectures, which Intel says will enter production in 2009.

The Carry Small Live Large plan is also looking at ways to utilize the data generated by the range of sensors included within mobile devices. According to Kahn, one of the oldest mobile sensors--the camera--has some of the greatest potential.

"That sensor could take a look at a bar code and give you information on the product--it could be connected to a database that you're looking at as a tourist", Kahn said. For example, it could allow the user to take a picture of a building in a foreign city and, using location information from the phone's GPS combined with the image taken by the camera phone, find the building on a database and then deliver data on it back to the user's phone.

Intel is not alone in believing the camera phone could be exploited further for search. Nokia's labs have already created a prototype search tool that resembles Intel's vision, which uses geotagging information and image recognition to provide data on popular landmarks. Last month, Vodafone launched Otello, a search engine that works by analyzing camera-phone pictures rather than text input.

Jo Best of ZDNet Australia traveled to Shanghai as a guest of Intel.

Click here for more stories on IDF Shanghai.