Intel welcomes us to the future



People interested in the future of computing were shown tomorrow’s world today at Intel’s Future Showcase event in London

David Bowie is famed for his chameleon-like reinventions but even his decade-long campaign of renewal and reinvention is outstripped by the ch-ch-ch-changes in the current world of computing.

The singer's vision of the future - all ray guns and spangling spandex, Diamond Dogs and blusher - is the focus of a major V&A exhibition but it was to another London venue tech geeks craving a glimpse of the future traipsed on Thursday.

Those of us interested in the future of computing were shown tomorrow's world today at Intel's Future Showcase event.

Intel Future Showcase Ball

Among the innovations was software which turned your face into a password; computing devices and other tech which could be controlled with our voices and movements; and all-in-one PCs which turned into massive tablets.

From useful, to cool to downright freaky - they covered the whole spectrum.

Mirror, mirror on the … computer screen?

One that definitely fell into the 'useful' category was Intel's Magic Mirror technology.

The best consumer tech makes our lives easier by solving problems and giving us shortcuts - from the iPod shrinking vast record collections into a tiny slither of polished metal to TVs pre-loaded with iPlayer.

Along similar lines, the Magic Mirror is set to revolutionise how we buy clothes via our computers and laptops.

Intel boffins revealed how the technology will allow us to 'try on' clothes we see online from the comfort of our living rooms.

It works by mimicking our movements with a special avatar when we stand in front of a computer monitor, forming a computer-generated image of ourselves we can refer to while browsing the virtual high street.

This technology could eventually banish the current trial and error method of buying clothes online - I'm sure I'm a 32 waist … oh no I'm not - to the dark ages.

The personal avatars can be adjusted if you change your hair colour, or get a sun tan on holiday; however Intel gave no indication as to when we could expect the technology.

An Intel spokesman said: "This is likely to save money for both consumers and retailers."

Face time gets a whole new meaning

At first this felt like a technology that fell into the freaky camp, but it's actually pretty damn useful once you get used to the idea.

And the idea is this: your face becomes a password.

Sounds odd, but think about it - how infuriating is it when you forget your password for your laptop, or you're banging away at the keyboard for five minutes before you realise caps lock is on?

The 3D Face Log-on technology says goodbye to such trauma. With it you can fire up your computer by merely staring into its eyes, well, okay its screen.

Tabletop touchscreens are all the rage

If you're a regular reader you'll know all about tabletop PCs - we broke the news of Lenovo's IdeaCentre Horizon during CES and have followed it ever since.

If not, a tabletop PC is one which can be stood up and used as a regular PC or laid flat on a tabletop and used as a tablet.

Along similar lines, the Intel Future Showcase was also rich in what Intel called its adaptive all-in-one PCs. These are oversized PCs which can be detached from their stand to work as a tablet.

Intel All In One Desktop PCs

The main idea behind them is that in tablet mode they can be used to get the family around the table for a virtual board game or to share some holiday snaps.

The devices are expected to range from 27 inches to 20 inches devices.

NUC kid on the block

These days it's all about tech we can fit in our pockets - from seven-inch tablets to the new iPod nano. Intel has ensured it is bang on-trend with its Next Unit of Computing (NUC).

The NUC was on show at the Intel Future event and boy did we like it. It strips computing right back to basics; to the essential needs of a modern desktop.

Intel describes it as "tiny barebones powerhouse of a computer" and that's pretty much what it is. If you're wondering just how tiny, it measures two-inches tall.

However, appearances can be deceptive and the NUC packs a powerful Core i3 system into its modest casing.  

Intel NUC

When it comes to running Windows 8, it is fast and responsive and full screen 1080p plays effortlessly.  

The tech giant reckons it's a "great choice as an entertainment device". And from what we saw we're inclined to agree.

It can be fastened to the back of your TV, making it a good choice if you're after something for watching movies.

The future is tech

There were plenty of other future - and current - technologies on display in London, most of which were far out enough to give Ziggy Stardust a run for his money.  

From facial recognition technology and tabletop tablets to motion control and mouse-activated mirrors - these really are golden years for computing.

And there wasn't a platform boot in sight.