Project Alloy, Project Aero, Euclid and more: Everything announced at IDF 2016

At the annual Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, CEO Brian Krzanich talked up the company's efforts in IoT, VR, AI and self-driving cars.

Lori Grunin Senior Editor / Advice
I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.
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Lori Grunin
4 min read
Watch this: Intel, Microsoft jump into mixed reality with Project Alloy, and Windows Holographic tie-up

Intel's Developer Forum isn't as whizzy an event for consumers as Google's and Apple's similar events, mostly because unlike much of those developer events, Intel really is "inside" where you can't see it; it's all technology that will be inside the products of the future, in this case, Internet of Things (IoT), VR, artificial intelligence (AI) and self-driving cars.

IDF16's theme: "The future is what you make." At the opening keynote, CEO Brian Krzanich took the stage to deliver an overview of Intel's take on "the experience of computing, visual intelligence, integration into products of the future, the cloud as a platform for innovation and how it expects to power the next generation of innovators." Here are the highlights.

The event opened with a showcase of Intel technology powering musical instruments.

  • First, the group Thud Rumble used its Invader smart mixer-powered turntables using Intel NUC (Next Unit of Computing) technology. They ran into minor technical difficulties.
  • That was followed by an Intel Curie-enabled drum solo by someone wearing VR goggles (sorry I missed his name) with sensors on his feet and sticks, playing invisible (to us) drums. The most portable drum set ever.
  • Then Kevin Doucette played a futuristic music device thingy with RealSense cameras on his hands, which emulated a virtual piano and a cello-sounding stringed instrument. A pianocello. At the same time. Want.
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Intel CEO Brian Krzanich shows a drone at IDF 2016.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

None of those Intel technologies are new, by the way. That moved into the keynote.

  • Of course, it started with the usual look-how-wonderful-the-future-is-with-our-tech video highlighting VR, dubbed "Intel Merged Reality."
  • Numbers, numbers, lots of developers in attendance.
  • He showed how cumbersome and space-constrained current VR implementations are. Then we got a demo of how the company's new Project Alloy headset, equipped with RealSense cameras and essentially an onboard computer, makes VR wireless and self-contained. It's got 6 degrees of freedom, obstacle avoidance and multiroom tracking and you can introduce any real-world object into the scene (merged reality). And look, ma, I can see my hands!

Inside Project Alloy, Intel's wireless VR headset

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  • Terry Myerson, EVP of Windows and Devices group at Microsoft, discussed that company's HoloLens development and its mixed-reality software development partnership with Intel, Windows Holographic. It's a mixed-reality plug-and-play interface, and will be available next year on PCs running Windows 10.
  • In the second half of 2107, Intel will open-source the Alloy hardware and the RealSense APIs.
  • Then Krzanich moved on to existing projects of content creation for VR. Epic demonstrated an Unreal game engine editor operating in VR. Krzanich also showed the same Intel 360 Replay video that we saw at CES in January; new is a production studio in Los Angeles called TXL Labs.
  • Next up, a sneak peek at its seventh-generation Core (code-named Kaby Lake) processors. They support hardware-accelerated 4K HEVC decoding and editing and improved graphics processing, at least for games. They're shipping now, and you can expect to see new devices with them this fall.
  • Intel refers to the RealSense camera-enabled capabilities as "Visual Intelligence." Robots in the sky! And you can buy one of its obstacle-avoiding drones (video), first seen at CES, today. Project Aero is a reference board for creating your own sky robots. You can preorder starting today for $399. It also has a full drone reference design that will ship later in 2016 or early next year.
  • Euclid is Intel's computing stick with Atom processor, RealSense camera and Linux, a controller designed to help develop on-the-ground robot-control systems.
  • Krzanich then trotted out RealSense 400, a tiny new version of the camera with a doubled operating range.
  • The "next big usage case" for Visual Intelligence = "the of the future." Elmar Frickenstein, SVP and head of BMW's Autonomous Driving Program, was driven onto the stage by a car, natch. He repeated everything car folks usually say about what tech we still need for fully autonomous driving.
  • On to the Internet of Things (IoT) and "THE COMING FLOOD OF DATA." This hits Intel in its sweet spot: processors. The new Knowledge Builder toolkit for developers provides access to the Curie's pattern-matching engine for real-time analysis of data derived from motion sensing on wearables.
  • GE CEO Jeff Immelt discussed the business applications of the IoT (in this case, the "industrial internet"), notably how it can improve industrial productivity. The company gave a demonstration of its Predix technology powering a smart-LED light post with Intel sensors that sends metadata -- Krzanich made a point of stressing that it's metadata, not full tracking data -- for analyzing and managing people flow and traffic flow. For instance, delivering real-time parking information or air quality measurements. It can be extended to indoor spaces as well.
  • Krzanich concluded with Joule, Intel's small next-generation DIY platform-on-a-board with RealSense cameras sized for glasses-size wearables. He brought out the winners of the company's "America's Greatest Makers" show with their gaming toothbrush from 2014, the Grush, which gamifies toothbrushing for kids. They said it's finally shipping by the holiday-shopping season.

Aaaaand that's all folks.