Microchip manufacturer Intel is investing $100 million in developing devices that can see, hear and feel.
The Intel Capital Experiences and Perceptual Computing Fund's goal is to deliver more natural, immersive and intuitive computing experiences to consumer devices. The company expects to see the first returns on its $100 million investment within the next two to three years.
Speaking at the Computex Taipei conference on Tuesday, Arvind Sodhani, president of Intel Capital and Intel executive vice president, said: "Devices with human-like senses -- the ability to see, hear and feel much like people do -- has long been a subject of science fiction but is now within reach given recent innovations in compute power and camera technology. This new fund will invest in start-ups and companies enabling these experiences, helping them with the business development support, global business network and technology expertise needed to scale for worldwide use."
The company has been actively exploring the possibilities of perceptual computing for over a year and recently launched a competition with $1 million in prizes for developers who use Intel's software development kits for creating innovative applications. But the new investment will see the company focus on broader touch applications, imaging, gesture, voice and emotional sensing and biometrics too.
As such, the first breakthroughs in these areas, which include embedded 3D gesture-sensing cameras, contextual voice command and recognition and the use of facial recognition for secure log-ins, are expected to be integrated into Intel-chip-powered computers before the end of 2013.
"Intel and our key OEM partners are excited about integrating 3-D depth camera technology into our next-generation platforms bringing compelling, natural and immersive experiences to life," said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's PC Client Group.
However, this is just the start: if Intel's investments in technology go to plan, before the end of the decade our computers will automatically curate a music playlist based on the user's emotional state or distinguish between different device users in the same family through their brand of perfume or aftershave.