If you're playing your ongoing game of buzzword-bingo, feel free to add this one to your list: perceptual computing. It's a phrase that you're about to hear a lot of, and for good reason: it's the future of computing, and it's freaking awesome.
Perceptual computing, explains Kirk Skaugen of Intel, is an umbrella term for the future of interaction with our computers. It covers everything from voice interaction, motion capture and input, biometric security and even advanced face detection.
Kirk is a smart guy. He used to head up Intel's automation division, and now he's the head of the PC Client group for the company. He's here at Computex to introduce fourth-generation core, as well as the world of perceptual computing.
Today he'll be standing up in front of a room full of people and announcing — among a slew of other things — a partnership with Creative. They've developed a new sensor camera which maps a room in 3D to enable motion-based interaction. It's like Xbox Kinect on steroids.
"Hang on, hang on. This is all a bit like Leap Motion?" I asked Kirk. He tells me that while Leap is great, it's a system that only tracks your finger and the vector in which it's facing. The new Creative camera uses the power of fourth-generation core to map the space in a 3D wireframe which the software then can interact with.
We're talking more immersive VOIP and broadcasting, faster computer-aided design where you can simply hold an object up to be scanned and interacted with, and better gaming. Even Portal 2 is getting a boost with perceptual computing: rather than hold a mouse and keyboard, you can reach out and grab your Companion Cube to thwart GLADoS and the Aperture facility.
Kirk is also announcing more awesome perceptual future stuff at Computex than you can waggle an Ultrabook at: you want to tap your Mastercard on an NFC-enabled Ultrabook to buy stuff online? Done. You want to interact with your computer in natural language to trigger actions? Done. You want your PC to recognise your face in more detail than ever, right down to your pulse? Done. Even your PC games are going to change with perceptual computing: it means that a game can track your heartrate as you play, and if it notices you slowing down, it can throw more monsters and scares at you to keep it right up there.
Intel is also kickstarting investment in the perceptual computing field with a new $US100 million venture capital fund for companies creating cool stuff on perceptual platforms. Already developers have downloaded the perceptual SDK over 11,000 times and dev challenges have been held en masse. The people who build the stuff of the future are into this which means we won't have to wait long to get some of the great stuff it has to offer.
Kirk says he wants this real, perceptual computing gear out in the market by 2014, and if his previous track record is anything to go by, we'll get it.
Luke Hopewell travelled to Computex 2013 as a guest of Intel.