Regular blog readers will know full well that I have been absent last week from my normal posting duties to chill out and attend the annual Intel developer forum in San Francisco.
Three floors of technology and innovation, dispersed with sessions covering everything from chips to robots. My own duties were incredibly light this year as I attended as a mere mortal with only two speaking engagements on the subject of RealSense (formerly known as Perceptual Computing). Also managed to snatch some time attending sessions on integrated graphics performance acceleration for my return to the universe of Reloaded.
While saying hello to a few friends in the 'Internet Of Things' lab, I happened across a project challenge to build a machine using the Galileo board. My creation was a pretty neat contraption which detected air motion, sampled the particles for ethanol and if high levels where detected, to sound an alarm and increment a sequence of LED lights by way of a detection alert. Although well received and prone to winning a prize for my efforts, it transpired that my close involvement as an Intel Innovator meant I was not eligible for the prize. That's politics for you!
My interest in Galileo lead me naturally to take an interest in it's older brother, Edison, which is a more powerful circuit board powered by an Atom processor. Powerful enough in fact to run the brain of a 22 jointed robot called Jimmy, capable of walking and talking, and built from a simple metal frame and 3D printed body parts. I have always had a passion for robotics, and were it not for the fact I am a better software developer than an electrician, I would be designing them even now.
Another take-away, and one mentioned in the keynote, was the wireless power system, which allows a laptop or other chargeable device to take power from a remote device located under your desk or table. Eliminating the last cable in the office was a great thing to see, and we should see peripherals by the end of the year using this tech, and by the end of next year have this integrated into our Ultrabooks! It's currently rated to 20 watts, so not quite powerful enough to run your desktop or huge monitor, but it will power mostly everything else and it's a great start to a glowing wires free future!
Of course the main reason for my attendance was to recharge the old batteries from several months solid work on FPS Creator Reloaded. They say a change is as good as a rest, and with liberal quantities of Guinness and stuff that looked like it, my brain was happily sedated while my mouth rabbited on for queen and country.
We can find out about technology and gadgets from the internet, but there is no substitute for getting together and talking about it face to face, and IDF is one of my favorite times to escape the office and do this.
In my capacity as the only Welsh Intel Black Belt, one of my busmans holiday highlights was a trip to the Planetarium, set out like a cinema under a huge domed screen projecting a journey through the universe. Complete with welcome drinks, a gorgeous meal, equally gorgeous people, white crocodiles, uncut diamonds and a great talk by Genevieve Bell on the evolution of robots (and some great movie quotes). It remains a privilege to be invited back as a Black Belt developer, and a pleasure to continue to contribute my thoughts and deeds back into the developer community in the years ahead.
Alas I did not get to enjoy the last evening at my favorite Steak House and Irish Pub as the aircraft to take me home dragged me away in the middle of the last day of IDF.
As it turned out, despite the home-time traffic of San Francisco and threatened TSA security lines, I was sitting at the departure gate restaurant within two hours of leaving the hotel and recovering from a rather naughty pizza. The British Airways plane you see performing it's reverse taxi trick was the sister flight to mine, scheduled three hours later. Rest assured I had plenty time to get through a few more chapters of Terry Pratchett's Raising Steam, and it was a great way to transition from the euphoric heights of the Black Belt universe to the everyday universe in which I live, breath and code.