Intel's chief executive pulled a button off his jacket, played hands-free pingpong with a drone and chatted with someone through a robot during a keynote presentation Tuesday afternoon that pitched the computer chip maker as a solution for nearly every buzzed-about technology of the moment.
The company also unveiled a $300-million initiative to bring more women and minority employees into the technology and video game industries.
The button shtick let CEO Brian Krzanich unveil Curie, a new computing module that's the size of the button. It's tiny size means it can power a raft of new wearable technology such as rings and bracelets. Curie will become available to wearable makers this year.
In playing with multi-copter drones from Ascending Technologies, Krzanich showed how Intel's depth-sensing camera technology called RealSense allows drones to fly themselves without colliding into objects. Stick one in between two people and it will "bounce" back and forth between them.
RealSense cameras can also be attached to robots that have video-chatting screens, meaning you could walk down the hall and the robot would tag along to keep a conversation going. A Food Network app coming in the spring that uses RealSense will let chefs flick through a recipe by swiping their hand in the air or saying voice commands. Attached to a special jacket, RealSense can give visually-impaired people a sense of space.
Krzanich also showed how Intel technology plays a role in 3-D printers from HP and in security systems for smart homes from ADT. Several Marriott hotels will have wireless charging stations in the coming months powered by Intel technology, Krzanich said.
The new diversity measure at Intel calls for "full representation" of women and minorities by 2020. Company leaders will be held accountable with pay tied to progress, Krzanich said. The $300 million to be spent over the next five years is earmarked for programs to get a diverse crowd interested in and working in the tech and gaming industries.