Intel's Genevieve Bell drank water out of frogs

At Intel’s Day Zero we were treated to the fragrant Australian and English-disliking Genevieve Bell,  now a fellow at the company and who we met at an IDF eight years ago. I am a Scot.

Bless her. She started off by saying that it was a pleasure to meet  the international press again – the first time when she met me, she said, was  eight (actually six years) years ago and she claims she was stumped by one question – when  I asked her if she’d ever been arrested for being an anthropologist.  

I remember it slightly differently – my question as I recall it was about the ethical aspects of anthropology. She may be right.

There then followed an astonishing series of revelations from Bell. She said that when she was a kid “she killed things. I thought it was perfectly normal”. She then showed us a picture of her and her brother as evidence of this killing frenzy. Her brother now works for the Australian special services. We don’t know if the Aussies believe, like David Icke, that we’re infiltrated by lizard races.

Genevieve Bell's history of frog killing

She got round to talking about user “interfaces” and mocked the English by illustrating a shower with the options hot, tepid and cold. The English, she said, don’t feel they deserve to have hot water. I am a Scot so don’t even deserve water, whether it’s cold, hot or tepid.

Her lab is trying to figure out how computing will be in 2020. People love the TVs they already have and Intel has moved away from trying to incorporate PC functions into TV. Intel has realised that Viiv was a really really bad idea.

A better starting question is for Intel to work out why people love TVs so much. People like TVs because it’s not complicated – not needing passwords. The question of why people love things is really important.

Intel has spent money on social research and working out “what people love”. Genevieve has had to go to sporting events like the World Cup in South Africa, go to church and go shopping as part of her onerous tasks.

Intel will move towards a more holistic approach for user interfaces.

She introduced Horst Haussecker who is in charge of the technolgy at Intel’s interactive and experiences research lab, talked about developing applications for mobile devices and they need other ways of approaching using an interface that can’t rely on keyboard or mice. Of course Apple is into this, isn’t it?

Intel is working on matching image matching, flexibile partitioning between clients and servers, location based data qeries, power analysis and optimisation. Intel has invented techniques that tap into publicly available sources such as Wikipedia.

Researchers tend to build hammers that haven’t really got a nail that fits. Intel starts with user experiences, he said.

* EyeSee After her presentation we chatted to Bell. She said that she had put her hand up to object to Intel’s doomed Viiv plan, and she believed that was one of the reasons for her advancement in the organisation.