Traditionally a large focus of IDF is looking at future computing trends. For the longest time the name of the game was convergence. The shift to mobility highlighted many IDF keynotes in years past. Today, in Intel's final keynote of the show, Justin Rattner began by talking about context-aware computing.

The first demo was the most compelling - an application called the personal vacation assistant.

The personal vacation assistant takes information your device already knows about you. Things like your calendar, current GPS location as well as personal preferences for things like food.

The app then takes this data and can provide you with suggestions of things to do while you're on vacation. Based on your current GPS coordinates and personal preferences, the app can automatically suggest nearby restaurants for you. It can also make recommendations on touristy things to do in the area, again based on your location.

The personal vacation assistant has an autoblog feature. It can automatically blog your location as you move around, post photos as you take them, and even provide links to all of the places you've visited. Obviously there are tons of privacy issues here but the concept is cool.

The idea is within the next few years, all devices will support this sort of context aware computing. While the personal vacation assistant shows location aware computing, there are other vectors to innovate upon. Your device (laptop, smartphone, tablet) can look at other factors like who you're with or what you're doing. Your smartphone could detect a nearby contact, look at both of your personal preferences and make dining/activity recommendations based on that information.

Modern smartphones already have hardware to detect movement (e.g. accelerometer), the next step is using that to figure out what the user is doing. This could apply to things like detecting when you're running, figuring out that you may be hungry afterwards and have your phone supply you with food recommendations next.

Motion sensors in a smartphone could also detect things like whether or not the user has fallen and automatically contact people (or emergency services) in the address book.

Context-aware computing can also apply to dumb devices like remote controls. In his next demo, Justin Rattner showed a TV remote control that made show/channel recommendations based on who is holding it.

The remote control determined who the user is by the manner in which the person held it.

This all depends on having a ton of sensors available and combining it with compute power. Intel was also careful to point out that context-aware computing must be married to security policies to avoid this very-personal information from automatically being shared with just anyone.

Personally I want my smartphone, notebook and desktop to work for me a little more autonomously. Intel talked about the idea that your phone could make a recommendation for what you should eat at a restaurant based on your level of activity for the day and the restaurant's online menu (determined by your GPS location and an automatic web search). Obviously this depends on nutritional information being shared in a uniform format by the restaurant itself, but the upside is pretty neat.

Hard sensing is important (location, physical attributes) but combining that with soft sensing (current running applications, calendar entries, etc...) is key to making context-aware computing work as best as possible.

Context-aware computing feels a lot like the promises of CE/PC convergence from several years ago. I do believe it will happen, and our devices will become much more aware of what we're doing, but I suspect that it'll be a several years before we start seeing it as commonplace as convergence is today.

Justin Rattner ended the keynote with a look into the next 5 - 10 years of computing. Intel is working with CMU researchers on sensing brain waves. Feeding the results of those types of sensors into computing devices can enable a completely new level of context aware computing. That's the holy grail after all, if your smartphone, PC, or other computing device is not only aware of your external context but what you're thinking.

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • ibudic1 - Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - link

    Every new technology can be used for good or bad - and it will be.

    Technology in itself is not good or bad. It is why it is being used. Personally I can't wait...
  • tkeoki - Wednesday, September 15, 2010 - link

    I see much more negative potential down this path than positive.
  • Cal123 - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    I don't want a device to suggest what I should do or where I should go. I can see companies lining up with bags of money to be the first suggestion on these devices. Many of the sheeple of the world probably won't mind it, but it's not for me.
  • britneys - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    it will be used for that by the Googles, AdSenses and Facebooks of the world whether the person consents or not. <strong><a href="">tiffany bracelets</a></strong> The only way to prevent that is to choose which technologies you allow into your life.
  • campbbri - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    I don't like it either. I understand that technology constantly changes and becomes a bigger part of our lives, but it's always shown us HOW to do things and not WHAT to do.

    I may be getting dumber because my GPS tells me how to get somewhere without me thinking, or when spell check tells me how to spell something. I accept that because I still decide what word I want to spell and where I want to go.

    Allowing computers to make the executive decision and tell me what to do (based on advertising I'm sure) in the first place is pushing it too far.
  • synaesthetic - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    Pointless. I like using my brain, thanks very much. I use my phone to communicate. I use my computer to work and play.

    I don't need either my phone OR my computer thinking for me. This whole thing just reeks of targeted advertisement evolved--Google AdSense on steroids.

    I have enough commercials in my life.
  • darckhart - Thursday, September 16, 2010 - link

    when can i plug this into a robot and have it go to work for me?
  • piroroadkill - Friday, September 17, 2010 - link

    I don't think I want everything to guess what I want.

    Having to make decisions is surely something that keeps your mind active, other than a retarded algorithim simply guessing what you want, and you going down the path of least resistance
  • the individual - Monday, September 20, 2010 - link

    So, when first terminators are shipping?
  • v12v12 - Friday, October 1, 2010 - link

    Anandtech Re: Context-aware Computing, Intel Paints the Future of Devices:

    Oh man... what a fscking huge sigh of relief! After reading the captions in the unassuming "inquisition," er "question" bubbles; the fsckin alarms of common-sense and the 4th amendment were off the charts loud!

    Then I sighed and mentally prepared to write up a huge post; trying, begging... PLEADING for the sheep(le) to WAKE UP and stop accepting this SPYWARE "technology" into their lives like a virus. But WAIT, wtf is going on here?! The traditional zombified, fanboy'd, "new-tech" fanatic was absent from class today? Huh?! WOW I'm proud of everyone that clearly sees this and these types of "advancements" as nothing more than advances into OUR, PRIVATE, LIFE! You can barely do anything "anonymously" these days. Sh!t the word "anonymous" is as cliché as "right to privacy," lol. You can't merely post whatever you want and hide behind an IP or ISP; they'll whore your IP out as soon as any alleged allegations are rumored.

    Anyhow, I'm just glad people (least these few) have some freakin SENSE about just what devices they are going to purchase in mass, which basically sets the status-quo for the majority. I do NOT want any type of device like said, that has the power to basically rat-out my whole private data-life/life-data™. This whole data, tied with "life," is becoming a reality. Being "off-line," is becoming more and more antiquated and socially unacceptable or at least an annoying faux pas. Soon, very soon, your employer will REQUIRE you to have a device like this and actively use it... All the while you literally have NO CLUE who could be man-in-the-middling YOUR "life-data" activities; the FBI has done it for years to suspected/known mafia members’ phones.

    Yes folks, the slippery slope of “online privacy” is starting to steepen for “us.” Heck I don’t even want to bother with a “Droid” type phone, until I know for sure that every function in it is “SECURE(D),” like anoperating system found on laptops/netbooks etc.

    Here, take a look at what these lunatics in the psych world call Problem-Reaction-Solution:

    HAHA read this PLZ people! This is being sold as the problem; “chemical hazards,” the expected reaction; “oooh danger, mysterious chemicals, randomly!?!??” Then the controllers of society (AT&* Vzn, Big Govt/Oil etc.) provide you with THEIR solution; your phone will basically actively sense what “chemicals” you’re in the vicinity of, then ALERT “other” nearby phones (peers) that YOU are in an alleged “danger zone,” thus your peers now flea from YOU! Oh and don’t forget, the city/county’s “agents,” will also be ALERTED, cept, they’ll be COMING 4 YOU, lol!

    Now let’s reapply this through the reality-filter; your phone will actively monitor what SUBSTANCES you’re around (drugs etc.), and the police/authority of some kind will be alerted and you will be either one of all of the following: apprehended, sequestered, fined and more than likely censored in your attempts to explain. Your peers (see family etc.) will be alerted and thus the digital-Scarlet lettering begins! Bet the local news will get their bit from your unfortunate humiliation. Yes these are going to be the NEW technological “advancements,” in your advancing technocracy. Lol yep sounds crazy, but so did the idea of “democracy,” in the Dark-Ages… The cycle is about to repeat itself folks… vote wisely… *coughronpaulcough*

    WAKE UP! ;-)

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now