Intel: Future smartphones will be assistants, companions

Editor’s Note: This story is excerpted from Computerworld. For more Mac coverage, visit Computerworld’s Macintosh Knowledge Center.

The future of computing is all about devices that are not just smarter than today’s, but are also more aware of the habits and day-to-day lives of their users, says Justin Rattner, Intel's Chief Technology Officer.

During Wednesday’s keynote presentation at the annual Intel Developers Forum in San Francisco, Rattner defined the next generation of devices as context-aware.

“The question is, how do we change the relationship so we change these devices from just devices to assistants or even companions,” said Rattner. “We believe context-aware computing is poised to fundamentally change the way we relate to and react to devices. Future devices will constantly learn your habits, the way you go throughout your day. They’ll understand your friends and how you’re feeling. Maybe more importantly, they’ll know where you’re going and anticipate your needs.”

Rattner said that as devices begin to understand the way their users live their lives, they’ll turn into personal assistants. Within five years, smartphones will be aware of the information on a user’s laptop, desktop and tablet systems, and will use that knowledge to help guide them through their daily acitivities.

Think of a smartphone that lets one know when there’s a shoe sale at a neighborhood store, or alerts users to traffic jams on commuter routes or that rain is forecast.

During the keynote, Intel demonstrated an application developed by Fodor’s, a publisher of tourism information.

Teaming up with Intel, Fodor’s has created a prototype smartphone application that guides users as they tour a new city. The context-aware application shepherds users around a city like New York or San Francisco, suggesting activities and sights to see in the neighborhoods they’re passing through.

The Fodor’s application also is designed to give a restaurant suggestions based on where the user’s hotel is, the user’s preferred cuisine and how much money he or she is generally willing to spend.

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