Intel: Future smartphones will be assistants, companions

Intel CTO Justin Rattner descibes a future with so-called context-aware computers and mobile devices

The future of computing is all about devices that will not only be smarter than today's, but will also be more aware of the habits and day-to-day lives of their users, says Justin Rattner, Intel's chief technology officer.

During this morning's keynote presentation at the annual Intel Developer 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 will turn into personal assistants. Within five years, smartphones will be aware of the information on a user's laptop, desktop and tablet systems, and they will use that knowledge to help guide them through their daily activities.

Consider, for example, a smartphone that lets a user know when there's a shoe sale at a neighborhood store, or alerts him that there are 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 can shepherd 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 is also designed to provide restaurant suggestions based on where the user's hotel is, the types of cuisine the user prefers and how much money he is generally willing to spend.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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