Intel put on an entertaining show for its CES opening keynote Tuesday night, with BMX bikes jumping across the stage and a live demo of a drone that can avoid obstacles in flight.
CEO Brian Krzanich called it “the most sophisticated collision avoidance technology in a consumer drone,” and said it would retail for less than $2,000 when it goes on sale in the first half of this year.
Called the Typhoon H and made by Yuneec (pronounced “unique”), the drone uses Intel’s RealSense 3D camera technology to automatically dodge obstacles while in flight.
It also has a 4K camera, and collapsible propellers to make it portable. A display lets the controller see what the camera is seeing in real time.
Intel showed a similar technology last year, but only in a prototype product. The Typhoon H makes the technology affordable to consumers, at least according to Intel’s math.
RealSense uses three cameras—a vision camera, an infrared camera, and an infrared laser projector—to measure depth and map out the world around it. The technology is also used in laptops, tablets, and other devices.
To show the drone in action, Intel cordoned off an area down the side of the auditorium where the keynote took place. A cyclist rode along the course and the drone followed, dodging very plastic-looking trees along the way.
“We believe we’re truly on the verge of a drone revolution,” Krzanich said. He also predicted that fireworks will become a thing of the past, replaced by swarms of illuminated drones in the sky.
Despite the lofty talk, it was one of the more entertaining CES keynotes. It opened with a young artist painting massive digital murals on the walls, using a virtual reality helmet and VR controllers for brushes.
There were also BMX bikes fitted with Intel Curie chips, which beamed information about their speed and height to a large display. And Intel showed a pair of voice activated sunglasses, developed with Oakley, that track your effort and coach you while you’re running or cycling.