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6/30/2010
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Intel Lab To Study Computer, Human Interaction

The interaction and experience research division will focus on natural interfaces, such as touch, gesture and voice.

Intel has launched a research lab dedicated to developing technology that can weave computing into people's lives, so the interaction is far more seamless than what exists today.

The new Interaction and Experience Research division is focused on taking the user experience way beyond the mouse and keyboard used in most homes and businesses today. In the future, Intel envisions more natural interfaces, such as touch, gesture and voice, will be the norm, Justin Rattner, chief technology officer for the chipmaker, said Wednesday.

"Better technology isn't enough these days," Rattner said in a statement from Intel's annual Research Day in Mountain View, Calif. "What the individual values today is a deeply personal, information experience. When I look ahead, this is the biggest change in computing I see coming."

Intel has recently assembled a team of researchers, including interface technologists and social scientists, to create what the company calls its "next generation of user experiences." Intel Fellow Genevieve Bell will lead the new division.

Intel is not new to the area of people-computer interaction. The company has been conducting such research for more than a dozen years. What's different now is having a dedicated division of experts "asking questions about what people will value, what will fit into their lives with a strong focus on technological research into the next generation of user interfaces," Bell said.

Intel is currently working on the use sensors in devices to monitor a person's real-time activities and displaying them live on the computers of networked friends and family. Such online social networking on steroids could use avatars in sharing a person's activities. Intel calls this research project "SENS."

Other technology on display at this year's Research Day included the use of projectors and 3D cameras to light up a tabletop or other flat surface into an interactive Web portal that would recognize hand gestures and objects. Intel also is exploring technology that would enable a computer to read a user's thoughts, replacing the need for typing altogether.

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