Intel’s Edison: hopefully more than just a mug’s game

Ian Scales
By Ian Scales

Jan 7, 2014

The gadget is called Edison and is described as a complete ‘Pentium-class’ computer shrunk to the size and shape of an SD card. As such it takes the concept pioneered by Cambridge-based Raspberry Pi several steps further (see - Is the Raspberry Pi the missing piece in the M2M jigsaw puzzle?).

The tiny Raspberry Pi was originally envisaged as an educational device and was developed as a low-cost way to get school-children interested in nuts and bolts computer programming - its potential role as a low-cost end-point for Internet of Things applications came along as a bonus.

Intel’s Edison concept shrinks the concept right down into the wearable computing zone, which the company says is one of its big targets for the device. The dual core ‘system on a chip’ runs Linux and has both WiFi and Bluetooth built in.

Intelligent clothing aside, Intel is clearly targetting the vast (and seemingly growing vaster) IoT or machine-to-machine market which the projections all say will be looking to gorge itself on literally billions of tiny intelligent devices and thus enable all manner of new and valuable applications.

Intel usually sees its role as driving commodity through its volume manufacturing capability, so unit costs to Intel partners are likely to be relatively low and, of course, will be based on volume.

Sometimes companies spoil things by demo’ing applications that make you wonder whether the entire field will ever get beyond the trivial - in this case Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich’s presentation was bolstered by what appeared to be some sort of arcane baby monitoring exercise involving faces on a coffee mug turning from red to green/frown to smile to indicate the baby’s temperature.

I sometimes wonder whether the IoT field will stay in the twilight zone of the novelty gift item for ever. What’s wrong with a crunchy production engineering application that might save someone somewhere millions of dollars per year… is it because the marketing/PR people feel this would just be boring (of course it is).

Anyway it’s early days. If it doesn’t have an app download store it isn’t really a ground-breaking device, so Intel’s Edison has one of those too.

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