Intel Grows a Touchscreen Ultrabook Tree at CES
Anyone who has ever been to CES will tell you—it’s a jungle in there. From the moment your feet hit the carpet at the Las Vegas Convention Center to the moment you fall into an exhausted heap on the tram back to Harrah’s, CES is a full-body assault on the senses that offers hardly one moment of peace. For new brands that come to the show to exhibit, it can be tough to stand out amid the chaos. For brands that come year after year, the challenge to do better and be better—without just being louder—can be even tougher. For Intel, a long-time exhibitor at CES, the jungle became the perfect oasis where it could engage consumers with its latest products by creating memorable moments of wonder, beauty and play.
The central figure, and winning technology, in the exhibit was the Ultrabook Tree—a massive and stunning structure with a gleaming silver trunk and “branches” spiraling out of its canopy with “leaves” made from 180 of the brand’s Ultrabook convertible. Consumers could walk up under the tree to a tablet station, create “blooms” by tapping the touch screen and then fling them off their screen and into the treetop above. Attendees could be found tapping, tossing and then looking up again and again to watch as their blooms and shapes floated across the screens in perfect synchronization. Virtual wind blew the blooms from Ultrabook to Ultrabook, creating a dynamic and visually stunning centerpiece to the Intel exhibit created by real-time user-generated content.
Intel’s objective at the show was to highlight the features of the Ultrabook convertibles and reinforce its role as one of the leading innovators in the world of personal technology. The Tree created a canvas that demonstrated the power of the hardware. The technology synchronized graphics at a millisecond level and rendered graphics at 60 frames per second (that’s game-level, folks), something that would have been impossible on less powerful hardware. The interaction between the tablets for consumers and the laptops in the tree reinforced the product’s two-in-one capabilities. An adjacent interactive “garden” complemented the tree, offering consumers a chance to blow on a pinwheel and watch as the rotation speed controlled animations on screens mounted behind them.
Behind the scenes, each Ultrabook ran a separate custom application that connected to a master application on a separate machine. The LAB created custom software and the interaction between the base of the tree and the canopy that enabled the screens to act as a single ultra-high resolution screen was enabled by Spacebrew, an open-source toolkit developed by the LAB. The tree and touch screen applications were developed using openFrameworks. And the Pinwheels next to the tree were built with custom-designed hardware and custom-built applications that connected the user input directly to the animations.
Intel’s tree was the most spectacular in all of the jungle. It was a beacon on the show floor, drawing in thousands of attendees and generating unprecedented media attention throughout the week. But it wasn’t just about the spectacle. The Ultrabook Tree effectively delivered on its objectives, too, tying the large-scale impression with a one-on-one experience that showed off the abilities of its convertible laptop, as well as the power of what’s under its hood.