CES 2018: Intel Brings Drones, AI, VR and the Future of Computing


CES 2018 Intel opening night keynote address

In its CES opening night keynote address and spectacle on Monday night, Intel teed up piano-playing drones (with a high-tech rendition of “Chopsticks”) and a Volocopter, an autonomous passenger drone that’s “essentially a flying car” (pending FAA approval).

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s keynote speech at CES 2018 opened with a “data” rock performance, starting with a band playing invisible instruments activated by data-playing gloves, leading to an Olympics Opening Ceremony-worthy chorus of illuminated, undulating drones, musicians, dancers and Tron-like acrobats.

He briefly addressed the cybersecurity issues of Spectre and Meltdown and thanked partners including Apple, Microsoft and Qualcomm for stepping up to patch the problems, and then it was on to the main focus of the event.

Intel 2018 CES keynote speech by CEO Brian Krzanich

The world leader in silicon innovation was on the big stage in Las Vegas to highlight “the power of data” as it keeps developing technologies, products and initiatives to advance how people work and live. Its mission is “to create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person on earth.”

As CTA president Gary Shapiro noted while introducing Krzanich, Intel has shifted from a “PC-centric company to a data-centric company, expanding into new markets like memory, modems and programmable solutions while investing in emerging areas like AI, VR, 5G and autonomous driving.”

In the area of VR, for example, Intel is the Official Virtual Reality Experience Provider of the Olympic Games, and will enable the largest-scale virtual reality event to date during the Olympic PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games using Intel® True VR technology.

Intel, along with Rights Holding Broadcasters (RHBs) including NBC, will capture a record 30 Olympic events, with both live and video-on-demand content available, bringing fans around the world closer to the action than ever before.

Krzanich also introduced Intel Studios, “the world’s largest and most advanced volumetric video capture and creation facility.” Intel Studios features a 10,000-square-foot volumetric capture dome and a dedicated team of engineers and creatives producing next-generation immersive media with brands, sports teams and filmmakers.

Intel also highlighted the emerging field of neuromorphic computing — “learning with less data” and more organically, as the human brain learns. Its first-of-its-kind self-learning chip is codenamed Loihi, and the goal of its neuromorphic research team is to accelerate artificial intelligence.

Loihi mimics, in a simplified way, the functioning of neurons and synapses in the brain. So, for example, the Loihi chip can recognize objects in pictures captured by a webcam while using about a thousandth as much power as a conventional processor.

The prototype chip learned how to perform simple object recognition in the company’s labs in just a few weeks, and Krzanich believes it will influence “future products and innovations.”

“The Loihi test chip offers highly flexible on-chip learning and combines training and inference on a single chip,” said Intel Labs’ Dr. Michael Mayberry.

“This allows machines to be autonomous and to adapt in real time instead of waiting for the next update from the cloud. The self-learning capabilities prototyped by this test chip have enormous potential to improve automotive and industrial applications as well as personal robotics.”

The Loihi prototype chip is being shared with universities and research institutions with a focus on advancing the artificial intelligence field.

Krzanich is also excited about quantum computing as a means to solve problems that the best supercomputers on the planet may take months or even years to resolve.

Intel’s new quantum computing solution, the 49-qubit superconducting quantum test chip dubbed “Tangle Lake,” contains 49 quantum bits or qubits units of quantum information, and could dramatically transform computing as we know it.

Intel has certainly come a long since 1968, when it set out to build semiconductor memory products and then introduced the world’s first microprocessor in 1971.

Below, watch the full Intel CES 2018 keynote: