Intel at CES Makes Everything Smart, Pledges Conflict Free

The Consumer Electronics Show in Vegas brings us the most innovative, glitzy, and sometimes downright bizarre products of the future. Products, we’ll all probably be using or wearing five years down the line.

It’s been a while since computer-chip maker Intel has brought something really interesting to the table at CES. But this year, it’s breaking out of the PC world into wearables and myriad other products with a lofty goal of making “everything smart.”

During his keynote, CEO Brian Krzanich also pledged that every chip Intel makes in 2014 will be free of conflict minerals.

First up – Intel’s new smartwatch offering, one among many at CES this year, is unique in that it doesn’t require a connection with another Internet-enabled mobile device such as a smartphone in order to work. The watch has smart geo-fencing which can track the wearer—say a child on their way to school—and sends out an alert if said child steps outside of the geo-fencing or does not arrive at school.

“It’s unlike anything else on the market,” Krzanich said. Intel is set to partner with Barneys and other fashion giants to deliver its new smartwatch later this year.

Intel also showcased its new earbuds with a built-in heart-rate monitor and a smart headset with a digital voice assistant named Jarvis. The latter can interact with a smartphone without requiring you to hold the device. Jarvis, which integrates with your calendar, can make suggestions and interrupt you with info you might need to know.

Both Apple and Google have personal voice assistant products, but Intel’s Jarvis is hands-free, which makes it a little different.

And in case you were wondering how you’d charge all your smart connected gadgets, Intel is also introducing a “smart charging bowl” that powers multiple devices dropped inside. The wireless bowl and stand measure 10 inches in diameter and utilize magnetic resonance technology, making it possible to charge multiple devices simultaneously without precise placement.

Right now, the bowl only pairs with Jarvis, but Intel plans to make it compatible with an array of devices, including phones, tablets, and Ultrabooks.

Perhaps the most interesting and ambitious of all Intel’s offerings at CES though comes in the form of Edison, a tiny computer the size of an SD card that can theoretically make any household product smart (providing said product has a power source and an SD card slot).

On stage, Intel demoed the “smart turtle” baby monitoring system, a monitor powered by Edison that clips to a baby’s clothing and keeps track of its heart rate, breathing, and movements. Edison then transmits these details to a smart mug, giving parents constant updates on how the baby is doing.

The possibilities are endless here. It won’t be long before a baby’s movements in the early hours of the morning will trigger both a bottle warmer and your coffeemaker to switch on instantaneously.

Topping off his keynote, Krzanich pledged that all of Intel’s microprocessors shipped in 2014 will be conflict free. This makes Intel one of the first IT companies to publicly announce its conflict-fee status.

Conflict minerals, including tungsten and gold, are mined in areas in Africa known for human rights abuses. Intel, the world’s largest chipmaker, has factories around the world and is already a member of the Conflict-Free Sourcing Initiative run by the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC), which encourages environmental and ethical responsibility.

It’s an issue that is important to me,” Krzanich said of conflict minerals. “We are inviting the entire industry to join us in this journey.”

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