THE OFFICE of the (not so far) future will be cable-free, meaning there'll be no annoying wires or leads connecting computers to monitors, laptops to plug sockets or tablets to projectors. Well, that's if Intel's vision of the future office is realised.
The semiconductor maker has said that it's looking to change the enterprise IT market with a strategy that will offer "three major experiences" in the office, that is, wireless display connectivity, wireless docking and wireless charging. The aim here is not only to make the lives of business employees easier, but to also improve user experiences to drive uptake of Intel's business client technologies.
Intel announced these capabilities as part of its Business Client strategy via an audio broadcast on Thursday, in which it still sees a central place for the PC in businesses despite the growing use of other devices, such as tablets in the workplace as part of the bring your own device (BYOD) trend. The idea is that this wireless approach will make the working environment much more productive and thus less stressful.
"At least five minutes of productivity is lost in every meeting trying to find out who has the right display adapters, dongles [and so on], and we believe there's a better solution out there," said Intel VP of the PC Client Group, Tom Garrison. "The goal is about unleashing productivity with devices with new experiences."
The first experience - wireless display connectivity - will be an enterprise version of the Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology found in Intel-based consumer laptops. This will be called "ProWiDi", Garrison said, and will ensure workers can stream to monitors or projectors from more portable devices without the needs for display cables; a hassle-free way to deliver presentations. This will be optimised for the congested wireless environment of the modern office, according to Garrison, and will have built-in security features.
The second wireless experience will be docking, so when you sit at your desk your system is already docked and ready to go. "You don't have to worry about connecting up your wires so by time you get there you're productive and up and running," Garrison added.
The third and final wireless experience Intel wants to push into the enterprise environment is wireless charging, which Intel has been promoting in the consumer market for some time along with the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP) group. They are working together to bring wireless charging as standard in laptops, tablets and smartphones as early as 2015.
Intel demonstrated its wireless charging technology at Computex in Taiwan in June. Speaking in an Intel Satellite event at the trade show, Intel PC Client Group GM, Kirk Skaugen, said that the firm plans to launch the standard in mobile devices in its next generation Core processor after Broadwell.
In theory, the standard will work by automatically powering up and charging a device as soon as it reaches the surface of the table due to the magnetic charge field that would be built into the desk surface. Below is a demonstration video of the technology taken at Computex.
"Moving towards a wireless charging strategy, we want to remove the requirement of carrying around a charging brick," explained Garrison. "Those bricks are heavy and cumbersome and we want an environment in the office as well as areas that you visit regularly, like an airplane lounge so you can just set your [laptop] down and as you're working on it, its charging the battery wirelessly."
Garrison said that the wireless charging technology will also be able to power multiple devices at the same time.
Taken together, these three wireless technologies will remove the need to connect any cables to a laptop, although Garrison said that no wires is "a vision that will be implemented over time" and not all of the capabilities will be delivered at once. ProWiDi is likely to come first, Garrison said.
Intel said that the introduction of a cable-free environment will have to ensure privacy is at the forefront, as the congestion of wires and density of devices will make confidentiality paramount. For example, users will want to make sure that they're connected to a right projector before they display confidential information, so the firm will incorporate some unique security engineering work for the enterprise environment into these services.
Another innovation Intel is looking into include is multi-factor authentication to do away with passwords. This might use combinations such as facial recognition and the user's phone, according to Garrison.
"If your phone is detected close to the PC and your face is recognised, it could be enough factors of authentication to give you access to the network," he said.
For more on enterprise mobility, visit the Intel IT Center. µ