In a few years time, you won’t be able to walk from the bedroom to the living room without falling over half a dozen devices that are connected to the web. For some, that might already be the case – if not, just give it some time. Smartphones, watches (Galaxy Gear) and glasses (Google Glass) are just the beginning – in the future, it’ll be your microwave surfing the web to find out how long to reheat last night’s leftovers, or even your toilet, placing an order with the nearest convenience store before the bog roll runs out. This is what some like to call the “Internet of Things”, a world where everything is connected.
Now Intel wants to get in on the act. The world’s biggest chip maker naturally has a vested interest in smart gadgets of every kind, and even more so when you consider that its primary PC chip making business is in a painful decline. Intel wants to make sure that its at the cutting edge of this new connected world, and to do so its just created an “Internet of Things Solutions” group.
Intel’s new group will be headed by its general manager Doug Davis, who will report directly to its new CEO Brian Krzanich.
“Krzanich is saying, ‘I want a higher level of focus on this to help us grow it and put the level of attention on it that it deserves,’” said Davis in an interview with Reuters.
Intel, while not really in any danger, is certainly a bit flustered at the moment. The company has dominated the PC and server markets for decades, but failed to reckon for the post-PC era. This oversight allowed upstarts such as Qualcomm and Nvidia to steal a march on it, not only gaining a foothold on the mobile market, but totally dominating it within the space of just a few years.
As far as mobile goes, Intel may or may not be able to catch up – but its clearly determined not to be left behind in the Internet of Things. Even before the formation of this group, its had its sights set on the emerging niche, building a range of low-power chips designed for wearable devices, and even edible biomedical.
Davis says that the Internet of Things Solutions group will work to combine Intel’s primary chip-making business with its Wind River subsidiary, which builds software for industrial and commercial devices.
“We’re pulling together a couple of pieces that are already doing well and we want to accelerate those efforts. This creates a primary focus around ‘Internet of Things,’” said Davis.
It’s a smart move for Intel because software will be crucial to managing the disparate collection of, er, things slated to join our increasingly connected lives. People might not be convinced that their bathroom scales needs to talk to their fridge just yet, but the Internet of things seems inevitable nonetheless. It will be interesting to see how much of it has Intel inside.