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Intel looks to Edison for its (wearable) future

Intel launches its tiny Edison computer, with CEO Brian Krzanich talking about an often bizarre array of wearable devices during his keynote.

Intel seems very committed to shedding its "boring" PC roots, with CEO Brian Krzanich using his CES 2014 keynote address to detail some, frankly, very unusual initiatives from the chipmaker.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich (Credit: James Martin/CNET)

Yes, that meant more wearable tech, but in fairness to Intel, the ideas were at least a little more exciting than a wrist-mounted fitness tracker. How exciting? How about a smart onesie for babies that transmits information like the child's breathing and sleeping patterns to a screen on the side of a coffee cup? No, seriously.

Or Jarvis, a headset that integrates with a smartphone digital assistant — either the one Intel is apparently working on or one of the existing ones, by which we assume they mean Siri.

What about smart earbuds that track biometric fitness data and get all their power from the headphone jack on your phone? Or a "charging bowl", where you just dump all your devices into the bowl and they wirelessly charge...

What Intel has done with Krzanich's keynote is remind people that this is a very clever company that's not about to let the world run away from it just because technology is going mobile.

The main reason for Intel to detail all these wonderfully blue-sky concepts was to announce the Intel Edison, a "full Pentium-class" computer based on Intel's Quark technology that comes complete with wireless capabilities and support for multiple operating systems — all in a form factor the same size as an SD card.

That's the whole (blurry) computer. (Credit: James Martin/CNET)

The company wants Edison to help power the next generation of wearable tech "prototype to production".

"Wearables are not everywhere today because they aren't yet solving real problems, and they aren't yet integrated with our lifestyles," said Krzanich. "We're focused on addressing this engineering innovation challenge. Our goal is, if something computes and connects, it does it best with Intel inside."

In fact Intel is very serious about powering our computing devices for the foreseeable future and Krzanich kicked off the Intel "Make it Wearable" challenge, an initiative that calls upon the "smartest and most creative minds to consider factors impacting the proliferation of wearable devices and ubiquitous computing, such as meaningful usages, aesthetics, battery life, security and privacy".

So, while you may not actually see the smart onesie in shops any time soon, Intel wants to make sure you will be wearing something powered by Edison in the not too distant future.