Intel flies 250 drones above Las Vegas' Bellagio casino

What's the best way to take people's minds off a big chip security issue? 250 light-up drones making shapes in the sky should do the trick.

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Claire Reilly
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Intel sent 250 of its Shooting Star drones over the Bellagio to celebrate CES 2018.


Forget Spectre: Intel wants to bring back the art of the spectacle. 

The tech giant tried to forget its high-profile security dramas by staging a glittering drone light show over the fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas on Tuesday. It was all in the name of CES , the world's biggest tech conference, which is taking place across the city this week. 

After the first official public day of CES (the show has technically been on since Sunday), Intel sent 250 of its Shooting Star Drones over one of Las Vegas' most recognisable landmarks. 

It was a bright moment after a tough week for Intel. Just days into the new year, researchers revealed a design technique used in chips from Intel (as well as those from other suppliers including Arm) could allow hackers to access data from the memory on devices. The revelation of the so-called "Spectre" flaw came at a bad time for Intel, just days ahead of its biggest showing of the year at CES. 

A good way to forget those worries? Light-up drones.

All the cool new gadgets at CES 2018

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The Shooting Stars are the same drones that Intel sent skyward for last year's Super Bowl half-time show, featuring Lady Gaga . Weighing in at roughly 300 grams (just over 10 ounces), the drones are designed specifically for Intel's light shows, so they aren't weighed down with features like GPS or additional sensors. 

Instead, the fleet of 250 drones is programmed using Intel animation software, with every movement perfectly timed and coordinated in advance by Intel's in-house team of animators. In the sky, they're geofenced into place (to prevent them roaming down the strip) and controlled by a single pilot. 

Speaking ahead of the display, the manager of Intel's drone light shows Natalie Cheung said the show was about using the sky as a 3D canvas for something creative. 

"It's a new way of storytelling in the sky," she said. "It's a different aspect of how you can merge tech and art together."

Intel could have used some of that light on Wednesday, when the entire Central Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Centre (home to Intel's massive show booth) was hit by a two-hour power outage

The show will run until Thursday during CES at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

CES 2018: CNET's complete coverage of tech's biggest show. 

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