Intel’s The Tomorrow Project, a Look into the Future

Posted by at 11:03 am on August 12, 2011

Intel is hiring sci-fi writers to help its engineers develop chip technology that will be used by consumers in a rapidly changing technology landscape. The move is a sign that the ‘post-PC’ world that Steve Jobs​ discussed at the launch of the iPad 2 is indeed upon us. Last year, Intel took on four sci-fi writers to examine Intel’s research projects and envision the way technology might be used in the near future to help drive its design direction.

The writers have produced an anthology called The Tomorrow Project, which has been published online. It explores what life in the future could be like.

Users “don’t care about the technology anymore,” says Jim McGregor, chief technology strategist at researcher In-Stat. “They care about how they can use it. It’s cultural change that needs to happen” at Intel, says McGregor.

The goal of the groundbreaking initiative is to use the language of science fiction, readily understood by all, to help Intel’s engineers develop technologies with wide consumer appeal.

Intel’s resident futurist, Brian David Johnson, has been leading a team of sociologists and anthropologists at Intel. Their job is mingle with people in a range of social contexts to better understand how people use technology in their lives, and how they might want to in the future.

One example of their work to date, has been the development of the chip at the center of the Google TV​ set-top-box. The team’s research showed that not only were people interested in streaming content directly to their TV and they wanted to surf the Internet from their TV’s too, all without a PC. This finding led to the chip design team developing a processor that could accommodate these requirements.

Although, while the slow take up rate of the device could suggest the project has not been successful, it could also be argued that it might actually be ahead of its time. Regardless, it is an interesting insight into how Intel is tackling the challenge of designing the technology of the future, now.

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