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Six technologies poised to revolutionise PCs in 2015

Agam Shah | Dec. 17, 2014
Laptops and desktops will be interactive, get 3D depth-sensing cameras and be free of wires.

Wireless displays will gain momentum with the growing adoption of WiGig, a faster version of Wi-Fi that can handle wireless 4K video streams without any lag. In addition to Intel, Qualcomm will bring WiGig to smartphones and tablets next year, so users will be able to stream Netflix directly from a smartphone or tablet to a wireless TV. Display makers will also build WiGig technologies into monitors and TVs in the coming years.

Creative desktops
From its origin as a dull white box, the desktop has become a hub of creativity and imagination, with technologies like depth-sensing cameras and 3D printing spinning off a variety of innovations. One example is HP's Sprout, which looks like a normal all-in-one PC, but packs the latest imaging and collaboration technology. At the base of Sprout is a giant touch pad called a Touch Mat, which is a dual-purpose digital canvas on which images can be scanned and also manipulated. A 3D depth-sensing camera lodged in Sprout scans the objects placed on the Touch Mat -- for example, if a coffee mug is placed on the canvas, the 3D camera will scan it to depth and size. A projector on top of Sprout can then reflect the scanned image of a coffee mug on the Touch Mat, which artists can then manipulate by touching the digital canvas. HP says the scanning and manipulation could be useful for creating objects that could be 3D-printed. But at $1,899, Sprout is considered an expensive experimental desktop.

Otherwise, Dell has developed a "smart desk," with an all-in-one PC beaming a virtual keyboard onto a desk on which users can type. It's an interesting concept, but a proper keyboard may be a better idea.

Interactive computers
Computers will become more perceptual with a combination of gesture, voice and visual recognition technologies being installed in PCs. Starting next year, 2D cameras in PCs will be replaced by Intel's RealSense 3D cameras, which will be able to recognize objects and even measure distances between items. The camera's Kinect-like gesture recognition capabilities will also make PC gaming hands free and interactive. Intel has lofty goals, aiming to combine visual, voice and sound input to recognize human moods and reading habits. While those won't happen in the coming year, the 3D camera will certainly make Skype chats more fun.

Biometric sensors
Soon, your body could log you into an e-mail account. By the end of this year, Intel will be providing software so users can log in to websites via biometric authentication. It serves two purposes: biometric authentication is relatively reliable and secure, and users won't have to remember dozens of passwords for different sites. Apple already uses biometric authentication to authorize credit card payments through its Apple Pay service, and Intel wants to bring a similar concept to PCs. Expect the fingerprint reader to become more useful starting next year.


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