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Intel shares its crystal ball (pictures)

The chipmaker shows off its vision for the future digital world -- including dancing robots, secure cars and 3D scanning.

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Shara Tibken
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1 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Avatar messaging

Forget WhatsApp. Intel now has the messaging app it thinks will appeal to Millenials. The app, called Pocket Avatars, lets people record images of themselves as an avatar and then send the video clip to friends. The camera on the phone tracks the user's face, giving the avatar facial expressions that match the user. It's available on both iOS and Android.

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2 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

NUC this

Planning to race a boat around the world? Then Intel has the hardware for you (or for anyone else who just wants to get rid of their bulky desktop towers). Mikael Moreau, of Intel PR, shows how the company's mini PC, called the NUC, or "Next Unit of Computing", helped a professional racer pare back the power consumption and weight on his boat. For the rest of us, the NUC provides a full PC in a very small footprint, about the size of a couple decks of cards.

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3 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Hold very still

One of Intel's major pushes has been "perceptual computing," or using cameras to detect gestures and other actions. Its new technology has 78 points of facial tracking, up from seven in last year's version. In this instance, the company is using a tablet to take a 3D scan of a person.

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4 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

How does he look?

Intel captured a 3D scan using a special camera embedded in a prototype tablet. It plans to push the cameras in devices over the coming months and years. As for PCs, Dell and seven other companies will be releasing computers with the cameras, some as soon as later this year.

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Mapping towers

The special 3D cameras in tablets also can be used in games and other applications. In the example shown, users can scan a certain environment and then move a little character on the screen around the environment.

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6 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Watch out for the block pile!

Here's what the final scanned image and game looks like. The figure can be moved around the screen.

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7 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Well hello, little doggie

Robots could play a big role in the future, Intel believes. This particular model, called Jimmy the Robot, costs $1,600 from Trossen. It can walk and talk, and even communicate with a dog visitor. Intel's goal is to get kids designing robots, says Intel futurist Brian David Johnson.

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8 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

We come in peace

Johnson explains how Jimmy, who's 3D-printed, will be controlled through apps. Intel plans to open a robot app store later this year.

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9 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Eyes on the road

As cars start to do more and be more connected, there are also more worries about security. Intel demonstrates how easy it is to take control of a car -- albeit a toy model -- remotely. Intel's research arm has been working on technology to secure sensors and other chips through their hardware instead of software like McAfee. Once the feature was enabled at the demo, Intel could no longer hijack the toy cars.

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10 of 10 Shara Tibken/CNET

Bright sunny day

Intel has made a big push with PCs and tablets in remote areas. Because power supplies can be spotty in countries such as India, it also has developed a way to charge them using solar power. A device can't be connected directly to a solar panel because the voltage will vary. Instead, Intel has developed "alternative power architecture" devices to regulate the power from the solar panels. It's even working on a large smart solar controller hub that could connect to multiple devices at once, as shown here.

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