Intel: Ultrabooks require touchscreens, WiDi

7 Jan 2013

Intel reveals future of Ultrabooks will include touch, energy savings, and WiDi

Intel has updated its requirements for laptops to be considered Ultrabooks, forcing manufacturers to include touchscreens and its own wireless display system WiDi.

Kris Skaugen, vice president of PC client at Intel, told press attendees at CES 2013 that there were 140 Ultrabook designs on the market since the form factor launched two years ago.

Of those, 40 already feature touchscreens. Now, all fourth generation Ultrabooks – those running upcoming Haswell processors – will be required to include touch in order to meet the spec requirements. Intel doesn’t believe that will drive up prices, however.

"What I think you’re going to see by the end of this year is touch based systems down at the $599 price point," Skaugen said, although he later admitted they would likely cost more than $799 when first launched.

The fourth-gen Ultrabooks will also be required to offer WiDi, Intel's wireless display technology.

Intel revealed a reference design for such Ultrabooks, dubbed "North Cape", featuring built-in antitheft tools, have "fresh data" via systems like Microsoft’s Connected Standby or Intel’s own Smart Connect, and offer all day battery life – largely thanks to the next line of Core processors.

North Cape

Codenamed Haswell, the will bring the "largest battery life increase, generation on generation, in the history of Intel", Skaugen said.

The North Cape device on display at CES features a display that detaches from the keyboard to be used as a tablet. When paired, it offers 13 hours of battery life; as a tablet, it offers ten hours, Skaugen claimed.

The North Cape Ultrabook has an 11.6in display with a bezel, but tapping a button invokes the "Smart Frame", which extends the viewable screen area to instantly offer a 13.3in "experience".

Smart Frame
Smart Frame

Perceptual Ultrabooks

Alongside touch, Ultrabooks will also start to include what Intel calls “perceptual computing” – using alternative input methods such as gesture, voice, and other “senses”.

For example, Skaugen said that Dell is already shipping with its laptops a beta of voice assistant based on Nuance’s speech recognition system, with more OEMs set to include it this year.

Intel is also working on eye-tracking software with Tobii, which has a system of its own for use with PCs.

Facial recognition will be used for security, with Ultrabooks scanning a face for access. While some systems – such as Android’s – have been circumvented using photos, Intel claims its is spoof proof because it uses multiple points on the face and analyses muscular movements, too.

For added security, voice recognition could also be used. The system is shipping today – also with Dell – but Skaugen said he expects it to “go ubiquitous”.

Gesture recognition has also grown over the past few months, since Intel released an SDK for its system in September, which can track all ten figures for more accurate movements.

“Rest assured, Intel is working to integrate this into all in ones and Ultrabooks in the future,” said Skaugen.

Haswell's arrival

Skaugen said Haswell remained on track to arrive this year – despite some energy savings systems moving up to new third-gen chips – with products arriving running the system in "a couple of months".

He added that Haswell is Intel’s first processor to be designed "from the ground up with Ultrabooks in mind", as other platforms were "retrofitted" to fit the form factor.

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