Power consumption, parallelism, and the rapidly-expanding world of mobile communications are among the leading areas of research and development currently being investigated within some of the IT world's largest companies.
Taking the stage at MIT's EmTech Conference (formerly known as the MIT Emerging Technology Conference) on Monday were top researchers from Cisco, HP, and Intel who shared their visions for the products of tomorrow by unveiling some of their leading areas of study and experimentation today.
From the growing impact of mobile computing devices to the push to make IT eco-friendly, along with new efforts to take advantage of parallel data processing capabilities, researchers from the three technology bellwethers spoke of commons threads woven through all their work and in what directions they believe the results of those efforts will subsequently drive future technologies.
Following a panel discussion on social networking tools that also focused heavily on the impact of mobile devices, Andrew Chien, vice president of research at Intel, said that the chip giant is also focusing heavily on the changes in IT usage and consumption that are being driven by handheld machines.
However, despite the rapid development of the mobile space, Chien said Intel feels that wireless device, applications, and service providers are still falling short in terms of how "intuitive" and "seamless" their technologies currently work.
"We have a healthy amount of concern about the amount of effort that these technologies require from all of us today," said Chien. "To that end, we're very excited about the idea of inference in the context of small mobile devices, about the richer senses and analysis of data that can be realized based on the body of techniques currently lumped under the umbrella of machine learning."
Among the specific examples of the types of mobile applications that Intel envisions taking root in the near future are systems that offer "seamless presentation" of more useful information than those available today's handhelds, including tools that use geolocation and onboard sensors to give users data that is pertinent to their personal condition and immediate surroundings.
Both Cisco and HP also count mobility among their leading areas of research, the panelists said, with Cisco looking into ways to merge "telepresence" with its recently acquired WebEx collaboration tools, and HP working on ways to more tightly link handhelds with back-end datacenter systems.
Prith Banerjee, only six weeks into his new post of senior vice president of research at HP's Labs division, said that the company's work in mobility, green IT, and parallelism are converging in its larger efforts to make large data centers more efficient in general.
In some cases, the work is oriented toward improving performance, such as through the use of photonic interconnects -- advanced electromagnetic technologies -- to allow datacenters to communicate more quickly.
In other cases, HP Labs is looking at datacenter power consumption, using sensors built into its prototype servers to reduce costs and headaches associated with cooling the massive hardware farms.