IDF 2013: Steve Brown, Genevieve Bell, and Lama Nachman on Context

One of the most anticipated sessions at IDF 2013 were the “Intel Envisioned” talks, giving us a sneak peek into what Intel is forecasting for the future of computing. Two of these talks were led by Lama Nachman and Steve Brown, and focused primarily on contextual computing.  The last day’s keynote given by Intel Fellow and anthropologist Dr. Genevieve Bell reflected the focus on contextual computing highlighted in these talks, and gave a wider perspective to the entire intriguing conversation.

Intel Chief Evangelist Steve Brown: Computing changes everything (and everyone)

Intel Chief Evangelist and Futurist, Steve Brown speaks to the expectations of what people want from their devices and how we can create a future where technology is immersive and all around us. Watch the sneak peek video below to get a glimpse of his presentation:

More from Intel’s IDF 2013 menu:

“For sixty years, computing has slowly crept its way into most every aspect of modern human life. In the next decade, we could see more change driven by computing than we have seen in the last sixty. As the size, cost, and power consumption of meaningful amounts of computing shrinks down towards zero, we will have the ability to turn anything into a computer. And as computers gain the ability to have a true visual understanding of the world around them, we will see major breakthroughs in robotics, and other human-computer interactions. In this talk, Intel futurist Steve Brown will offer a simple framework that can be used to identify potential opportunities for innovation and profit spanning multiple industry segments. He will also share a few examples of innovations we can expect to see in the next decade or two, and how that may change our lives in the future.”

Mr. Brown’s thoughts are that users desire more personal technology. The number one thing that people desire from their computing devices is for these collections of 0’s and 1’s to understand us on a more personal, contextual level. We want our devices to offer services that pertain to what we’re doing – without us seeking them out. Data is vital, and once you have all the pieces together you can imagine amazing new uses for technology where computing has never gone before. Mr. Brown envisions a purely pervasive era of integrated computing where this technology is ubiquitously part of the world around us. Revolutionary? Perhaps. But look how far we’ve come just in the last few years. Anything is possible!

Intel Principal Engineer Lama Nachman: Contextually Aware Devices

Lama Nachman is a Principal Engineer in the Intel Labs Interactions and Experience Research. She shared her views on contextually aware devices and the need from them to be aware on a much deeper level. Not just when we interact with them, but active all the time contextually sensing the environment around us and adjusting to our tastes on the fly.

Get a quick glimpse of what Ms. Nachman had to say in this video:

Basically, our devices only interact with us when we interact with them, but not when we’re interacting with the world at large. They need to understand our preferences and environment whether we’re interacting with our devices or not – and be “live” in the background, doing something on our behalf:

"Communications and alerts need to become more than some unified equal layer of data... I want to know the difference between information contained in a call or alert that is simply a friend wanting to chat and one that is going to tell me my house is burning down. Devices should know whether they are being used in noisy environments ... maybe due to sound sensors... maybe due to geo-location sensors, or both." – “Intel Developer Forum: the context-aware app cometh”,

See the highlights of both of these speaker session here:  A “Sneak Peek” into Intel Research….What’s Next?

Personal context

Both of these talks reflected what Intel Fellow and anthropologist Dr. Genevieve Bell shared in her keynote on September 12, titled “Seven billion futures, and you’re one of them”. In her talk, Dr. Bell outlined the company's global vision for mobility and four human desires for future technology: to be truly personal, to unburden them, to help them stay in the moment and to help them realize their better selves.  Bell illustrated these ideas through various demonstrations of current Intel and third-party research including smart clothing, low-power silicon, and context-aware technologies:

"Mobility technology has been transforming human society for centuries. Its future will be influenced not only by the shrinking size of computing technology due to Moore's Law, but also by global population growth," Bell said. "Our inspiration should come not only from the invention of new technology ingredients, but also from the needs and desires of human beings. It's not one future we are shaping - it’s 7 billion futures, and counting." – “Intel Sees Humans as the Ultimate Mobile Platform”, Intel Newsroom

Ms. Bell pointed out that human desires for context and personalization require that Intel and the developer community think beyond the mobile devices of today and consider the bigger picture which includes infrastructure, personal data, places and people. Looking towards the future, the best technology will be aware of the full context of each individual as it provides for personalized experiences. This in turn will shape the development of technology building blocks, whether that is silicon, operating systems, middleware, applications or services.

"This global vision requires a constant interplay between what technology makes possible and what individuals desire," said Bell. "Intel will make the best technology and partner with leading developers worldwide to deliver this innovation from silicon to experiences."

Watch the entire keynote here

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on context and computing? Do you believe that your devices need to be made more aware of what you’re doing so they can better serve your needs? Let’s hear what you think in the comments.






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