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Intel Experts Share Insights on Tech Trends for 2017 and Beyond

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Intel is inventing foundational technologies for amazing new experiences from merged reality to 5G communications and from autonomous driving to artificial intelligence. As 2016 draws to a close, we asked five Intel leaders, many new to the company, for their thoughts on these tech trends that will shape the future of Intel and our industry. Here are some of their insights:

In 2017, AI-powered systems will go from exploration to adoption in the enterprise

The digitization of nearly everything has produced mountains of data. More data than human beings can consume, synthesize and put to use. But, with artificial intelligence technologies (cognitive computing and deep learning, as examples), we’re gaining the ability to more effectively understand, interpret and act on all that information.

Gayle Sheppard, who joined Intel with the acquisition of cognitive computing company Saffron Technology, believes 2017 will be the year that AI-enabled decision systems move from exploration to enterprise adoption across a variety of industries. Saffron unifies what Sheppard calls “more chaotic, unstructured data” with manicured enterprise data to surface insights from patterns impossible to see before. This capability helps industries such as financial services improve the detection and prevention of fraud or helps retailers individualize product recommendations to achieve better outcomes for their customers. Artificial intelligence, she said, will ultimately give all of us intelligent assistants for our professional and personal lives.

“With AI we have the opportunity to move beyond traditional thinking about decision-support systems to build systems that see, hear, understand and collaborate with us to help make decisions faster, more relevant and better informed.”  – Gayle Sheppard, general manager of Saffron Technology

3-D collaboration will emerge as a driving use case for AR/VR

Today, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) are most commonly associated with gaming or entertainment. While these uses will undoubtedly gain in popularity, another potential “killer app” for AR and VR has more in common with the rise of spreadsheets, word processing and e-mail. According to Remi El-Ouazzane, chief executive of Movidius, a company Intel acquired in 2016, workplace collaboration is likely to propel the adoption of augmented reality (or what Intel calls “merged reality”).

“Companies today are bound by two-dimensional collaboration,” El-Ouazzane said. But, with merged reality, “you immerse yourself in an environment where, for example, engineers at different sites around the world could walk around an engine, working together as if physically in the same place at the same time.”

To get us there, computers will need to process visuals with the speed and accuracy of the human eye. That’s where Movidius comes in. The company was founded with the bold vision of giving sight to machines. Its leading vision processing unit combined with Intel® RealSense™ depth-sensing technology is a powerful combination toward realizing that vision. “In merged reality, we are confronting two worlds, the actual world we can see with our eyes and a computer-generated world. The display where those synthetic elements are rendered needs to be good enough for your brain to accept them as being real,” said El-Ouazzane.

“Augmented reality is nothing less than tricking the brain to believe that synthetic elements and real elements can coexist.” – Remi El-Ouazzane, chief executive of Movidius, an Intel company

Function will overtake form in automotive

Intel is dedicated to transforming the future of driving and designing the next generation of advanced driver assist systems and autonomous driving solutions. Intel’s General Manager of the Automated Driving Solutions Division, Kathy Winter, joined Intel from Delphi where, in 2015, she was credited with achieving the first cross-country drive by an autonomous vehicle.

In 2017, she expects more autonomous cars on the road, gathering data to pave the way for the broad adoption of safe and reliable autonomous vehicles. Winter says the technology industry is accelerating the pace of innovation in the automotive industry, and changing how we value cars.

“What you’re seeing is a change in the industry with less focus on what vehicles look like and more focus on what can they do.” – Kathy Winter, Intel vice president; general manager, Automated Driving Solutions Division

With function trumping form, the industry is ripe for the many foundational computing and communications technologies Intel offers. Another Intel business unit with compelling technology for the future of transportation is Intel’s Programmable Solutions Group (PSG), formerly Altera. PSG General Manager Dan McNamara says that because field programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) can be customized and reprogrammed on the fly, they are a great fit for many of the specialized computing tasks automated driving requires.

In 2017, he expects to begin shipping a new automotive-grade Arria 10 FPGA that offers the highest performance processing by an FPGA at 20nm and will give automakers a head start on their ADAS systems.

“The autonomous driving revolution provides not only an increase in driver and pedestrian safety, but an interactive experience for the driver that will continue to evolve. We are focused on providing automakers with scalable technology to meet their customers’ needs.” – Dan McNamara, Intel vice president; general manager, PSG

In 2017, 5G prototypes start to take shape

Unlocking the true potential of automated driving requires a reliable, robust and pervasive wireless network. These requirements are the basis of 5G networks, which are expected to become available starting in 2020, though trials are already underway.

Rob Topol, General Manager of 5G business and technology within Intel’s Communications and Devices Group, expects these 5G trials will pick up steam in 2017. One big advancement will be the prototype devices used for testing. “You will see us move from testing with larger trial platforms, to using more mobile and segment-specific form factors,” Topol said. While 5G form factors will, ultimately, be limitless, that’s a sure sign of progress.

Unlike 4G wireless, which largely focused on making smartphones faster, industry leaders look to 5G to provide the higher data rates (1-20 Gbps), lower latency and capacity needed for the blossoming Internet of Things (IoT), new service models and immersive new experiences. It’s an ambitious undertaking that’s well underway.

“Without 5G, the Internet of Things will not reach its potential.” – Rob Topol, general manager of 5G business and technology, Communications and Devices Group

We’ll be talking more about these future trends when the industry convenes at CES next week. You can stay up-to-date with related Intel news and activities in our CES 2017 newsroom, including a livestream of our CEO’s press conference. On Jan. 4 at 4 p.m., Brian Krzanich will immerse you in virtual reality to experience how Intel technology is extending far beyond consumer electronics to define almost every aspect of our lives and transform industries.

We hope to see you there. Happy New Year!

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