It sure seems some days that what was once science fiction is increasingly becoming today’s technology. From Arthur C. Clarke’s satellite to electronic circuits that can be embedded in our skin science fiction seems more prescient than ever.
Well it seems that Intel is taking notice of this and is hiring science fiction writers to help figure out where consumers and technology could be heading, both in the near and long term. This follows on their experiment last year where Intel hired four science fiction writers to look at Intel’s research projects and then write about how that technology could be used in the near future. The end product, an anthology called The Tomorrow Project, was meant to help drive the direction of Intel’s design of those technologies.
This time around Intel wants the easy to understand language of science fiction to help Intel engineers develop technologies with a wider consumer appeal.
Intel’s resident futurist, Brian David Johnson, has been leading a team of sociologists and anthropologists at Intel. Their job is mingle with people in a range of social contexts to better understand how people use technology in their lives, and how they might want to in the future.
One example of their work to date, has been the development of the chip at the center of the Google TV set-top-box. The team’s research showed that not only were people interested in streaming content directly to their TV and they wanted to surf the Internet from their TV’s too, all without a PC. This finding led to the chip design team developing a processor that could accommodate these requirements.
Although, while the slow take up rate of the device could suggest the project has not been successful, it could also be argued that it might actually be ahead of its time. Regardless, it is an interesting insight into how Intel is tackling the challenge of designing the technology of the future, now.
Here is a video of Brian David Johnson, Intel’s resident futurist (now there’s a cool job), explaining the projects.