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Intel wants your next PC to have no wires

Intel is working on new wireless display, docking and connector technologies

Intel wants to completely eliminate wires from computers, and is working on a series of wireless technologies to make that a reality in the coming years.

PCs are on the way to a "true no-wire" experience, and Intel is working on technologies to remove the clutter of power cords, display connectors and peripheral cables, said Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president, and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, during a speech at the Computex trade show in Taipei.

Intel is working on new wireless charging, docking, display and data transfer technologies. Skaugen shared details of the new wireless technologies and provided demonstrations of how they would work during the keynote.

Intel's hoping for a completely wire-free PC by 2016. The company will deliver a reference design of a Core processor code-named Skylake -- which will succeed the next generation Broadwell chip -- that will enable wireless docking, charging, display and data transfers.

Perhaps the biggest element in Intel's vision of a wire-free computer is the wireless technology to carry display and data signals. Intel wants to eliminate all wires from desktops with WiGig technology, which is three times faster than the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi technology.

The WiGig wireless connection will connect desktops to displays, and also enable wireless keyboards and mice, Skaugen said. Intel is developing WiGig modules for laptops, desktops and high-resolution displays. WiGig has the potential to replace HDMI and DisplayPort technologies, and wireless modules could be integrated in PCs as early as next year, Skaugen said.

Dell already offers a WiGig dock as a bridge between monitors and PCs. The next step to a dock is to get the WiGig modules inside the computers, Skaugen said.

Intel is also chasing wireless charging. Laptops and tablets will be able to recharge simply by putting them on tables or other surfaces, much like smartphones and tablets, Skaugen said. Intel is leading the development of new wireless charging specification that will support power delivery of 20 watts and more to enable magnetic resonance wireless charging of laptops.

Skaugen showed a laptop being charged wirelessly when placed on a table. The screen got brighter as the laptop got closer to the table, indicating that the PC was being wirelessly charged. Skaugen also showed a Lenovo Yoga laptop with wireless charging.

Intel also announced it had joined A4WP, a group that defines a wireless charging specifications based on magnetic resonance. PC makers like Fujitsu, Dell and others also joined the organization. Samsung and Qualcomm are already members of A4WP.

Besides a wire-free experience, Intel also wants to make computers more interactive. PCs with 3D cameras will ship by the end of this year, Skaugen said. The 3D cameras will be able to go deeper inside images and track depth, similar to how human eyes do. The depth images will help track movement, recognize human emotions, or even track down reading habits. It is part of Intel's perceptual computing effort, in which sensory input makes human interaction with the computer easier.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is [email protected]


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