Ultrabooks Will Evolve Beyond the Keyboard and Mouse
At Intel's pre-CES briefing this morning, Mooly Eden, Intel vice president and general manager, PC Client Group, revealed how Ultrabooks will continue to give consumers the experience it's built to deliver. As Ultrabooks continue to dominate the mobile computing headlines in 2012 with the upcoming launch of the new Ivy Bridge processor, Eden described how Ultrabooks will shape and transform the mobile computing landscape as these ultra-slim computers will become more affordable to mainstream users.
For most users, a notebook (or an Ultrabook in this case) is just a computing device and the way users interact with it has never changed ever since Windows was first introduced to the PC. Users have been largely contented with just the keyboard and mouse (or a trackball for some). But with computing performance scaling at an unprecedented rate, a lot more could be done to improve the user experience, and user interaction was one of the focus for future versions of the Ultrabook.
Touch-enabled screens will be one of the obvious user interaction methods for Ultrabooks as the computing industry prepares itself for Windows 8. And Intel expects more innovative Ultrabook designs to come out of this, like convertibles and other different styles. One innovative concept system developed by Intel comes equipped with a clear multi-touch panel at the base of the keyboard. The clear panel serves as a touch pad when used in a clamshell mode but can be transformed into a touch-enabled display when closed for quick on-the-go usage. The clear panel will allow the user to quickly grab information off the screen on the Ultrabook without having to open and 'wake' the system while the multi-touch panel will give the user a complete tablet-like experience. Although only a concept built using Windows 7, Intel believes that such innovative designs could improve the user's experience.
Besides touch, Intel has further plans to get users to interact more naturally with the Ultrabook through speech recognition. In order to achieve this, Intel announced a strategic relationship with Nuance Communications, a leading provider of voice and language solutions, to develop an intuitive, multi-language, natural voice experience for such devices. In short, it's Siri for Ultrabooks. But unlike the mobile counterpart, it's expected to help users achieve more because it'll be based on Nuance's Dragon voice recognition technology (a speech dictation product that has already been around for years). The Intel optimized version of this technology will be available this year and 9 major languages will be made available, including french, dutch, german, italian, spanish, japanese and mandarin.
Developers can also look forward to building speech-enabled apps as Intel will be releasing a software development kit specifically for Dragon and Nuance technologies.
Finally, Intel is also working on the next generation of computing interaction which includes short range gesture recognition. Intel demonstrated a very early progress into this form of interaction with a slingshot game controlled by the user's gestures. Although not something that bowled us over, it's nevertheless an idea for developers and equipment manufacturers to ponder over. The idea is not new though and others like Kinect for Xbox 360 have already enjoyed much more success in gesture recognition than anyone else. In fact, there's a better chance for Microsoft to succeed in delivering Kinect for Windows than any individual developer or manufacturer attempting to build such technologies from scratch. Microsoft's keynote, which took place later today, announced the availability of the product for developers from 1st February 2012 and the beta version of the software development kit is already available for download today. The only problem with Kinect is, it probably won't come integrated with Ultrabooks.