CES 2014: Intel CEO Bets On Wearable Devices Powered By New Edison Chip

Brian Krzanich is betting big on wearable computing devices.

During his opening night keynote at CES 2014, Intel's newest CEO took the chip maker in a new direction with the introduction of Edison, a new microprocessor designed for wearable and smart devices. Instead of hyping the latest PC processors or Ultrabook form factors, Intel is turning its attention to everything from smartwatches to baby bottle warmers.

"With Edison the possibilities, we believe, are endless," Krzanich said.

Edison is built on Intel's 22nm dual-core Quark system-on-a-chip and features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support as well as an ultra-low-power architecture. The x86 chip comes in a small SD card form factor and even supports Linux and connects to Intel's App Store.

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"What's unique about this is it's a full system. It's a full Pentium-class PC in the form factor of an SD card," Krzanich said.

During the keynote, Intel showed off several prototypes running Edison, including a baby onesie from startup Rest Devices that monitors an infant's heart rate, breathing rate and temperature. In addition, the onesie can signal another smart device -- a baby bottle warmer -- when it senses the infant has woken up.

Intel also showed off smart earbuds co-developed with biometrics company Valencell. The earbuds contain health monitoring sensors that track biometric and fitness data so there's no need for an additional health monitor device when a user is running. And the smart earbuds don't need an additional battery because they draw power from a device's audio microphone jack.

"As you can see, we're looking at a broad ecosystem of wearables," he said. "We're looking at not just the device, the silicon. This is an amazing opportunity for partnerships across the ecosystem."

To further promote wearable technology, Krzanich unveiled the "Make It Wearable" challenge -- a contest for participants across the globe to make the most innovative and compelling wearable technology, with more than $1.3 million in cash awards available to winners. Intel also will connect contenders with IT industry partners to help them bring their ideas to life, he said.

"We believe that because there's so much creativity and capability in this device we didn't want to limit it to just what we could think or what partners we could find," Krzanich said.