CEO Brian Krzanich used his keynote address on Monday at the 2014 CES show to share his vision for Intel, outlining new products, initiatives and strategic relationships aimed at accelerating innovation across mobile and wearable devices.
At a pre-show keynote, Krzanich cast his vision of how the landscape of computing is being re-shaped and where security is too important not to have it embedded in all devices. As he sees it, the world is entering an era of integrated computing defined not by the device, but by the integration of technology into people's lifestyles in ways that offer individuals new utility and value.
Specifically, Krzanich pointed to several immersive and intuitive technologies that Intel will begin offering this year. For starters, the company is bringing human senses to Intel-based devices in a new family of hardware and software products called Intel RealSense technology.
Intel's Wearables Strategy
Intel's approach to wearables, which the company sees as the next evolution in computing, is to imagine and create reference-design devices and platforms ready for use in developing wearable products. Krzanich highlighted several wearable reference devices, including smart earbuds that provide biometric and fitness capabilities, a smart headset that is always ready to engage and can integrate with existing personal assistant technologies to make the consumer experience more intuitive, and a smart wireless-charging bowl.
Krzanich also announced collaborations with Barneys New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Opening Ceremony to explore and bring to market new smart wearable technologies, and to increase dialog and cooperation between the fashion and technology industries.
Finally, he kicked off the Intel "Make It Wearable" challenge, a global effort aimed at accelerating creativity and innovation with technology. He said the effort will call upon the smartest and most creative minds to consider factors affecting the proliferation of wearable devices and ubiquitous computing, such as meaningful usages, aesthetics, battery life, security and privacy.
"Wearables are not everywhere today because they aren't yet solving real problems and they aren't yet integrated with our lifestyles," Krzanich said. "We're focused on addressing this engineering innovation challenge. Our goal is, if something computes and connects, it does it best with Intel inside."
Stronger Data and Device Security
Next, Krzanich unveiled the Intel Security brand, which will identify Intel products and services in the security segment. He shared plans to transition McAfee products to the Intel Security brand while retaining the familiar red shield.
"The complexity of keeping digital identities safe grows as mobile applications and devices become a more important part of our daily lives," Krzanich said. "Intel's intent is to intensify our efforts dedicated to making the digital world more secure, and staying ahead of threats to private information on mobile and wearable devices."
Intel acquired McAfee last year, and while the venerable security-products company has not had an association with its founder John McAfee for 15 years, his increasingly erratic behavior and brushes with the law are a potential liability to the brand.
Intel plans to offer elements of McAfee's security solutions for mobile devices for free. These data and device protection solutions help guard today's most popular mobile devices, including Apple iPhone, Apple iPad and Android devices. More details will be announced in the coming months.
As corporate "bring-your-own-device" programs have grown in popularity, Intel notes, many firms have prohibited Android-based devices that weren't compatible with their companies' security requirements. Intel Security this year will offer Intel Device Protection technology, which will help Intel-based Android mobile devices meet most security standards for use at home and work.
For analysis of the keynote, we turned to Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. King, who is attending CES in Las Vegas, told us it is an odd event in that it requires executives to demonstrate both expertise in near-term market opportunities and a visionary sense of where the industry and consumers are heading. From where he sits, Krzanich did extremely well in addressing both points.
"Wearables are a very hot topic at CES 2014, and the sector fits Intel's 'Internet of Things' strategy to a T," King said. "The decision to unify McAfee and related technologies under a single Intel Security umbrella seems sensible since the company has considerable security assets outside of McAfee."
King also applauded Intel's decision to freely distribute some heterogeneous security solutions to smartphone users, regardless of the operating system or platform their handsets support.
"I was also intrigued by two of the longer term efforts Krzanich described," King said. "The decision to support development of dual-OS -- Windows 8 and Android -- laptops and tablets could benefit many customers and lead to entirely new market opportunities for Intel."