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CES Feature Articles

January 09, 2014

Edison Mini PC Could Make Wearables a Reality This Summer

CES 2014 has been a very exciting convention so far, but Intel (News - Alert) may have dropped one of the biggest bombs of the event with the release of its SD card-sized PC. Dubbed “Edison,” the device delivers the power of a personal computer in a tiny package with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 accessibility.

At the heart of Edison lies the Intel Quark chip, a 32-bit low-power x86 processor that was launched last year. Quark already sits inside of the Intel Galileo board computer, but Edison takes the same chip and uses it in an even smaller package. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth provide the necessary connectivity channels needed for a wearable, and small amounts of LPDDR2 memory and Flash storage give it just enough juice to operate on its own, without connections. To put it in perspective, this gives Edison about the same processing power as the average desktop computer from 1998.

Image via The Verge

The chip will not be released until this summer, but the fact that it takes the size and shape of an SD card leads many to speculate that it will feature the right ports to plug into an SD slot. This would make for easy transfer of data from a wearable to a personal computer, or even to another wearable through a physical connection.

Competitors like Electric Imp have launched similar devices almost a year ago, but Edison's biggest advantage is its connectivity. Because of this, the chip can simply use the Internet and cloud-computing to do all the big-muscle processing, and simply transfer the results to whatever devices the Edison is connected to. It also allows the device to save physical space on storage, which allows a wearable device like a glove or a bracelet to have access to millions of documents online.

Currently, Edison lacks a dedicated team of developers to handle server infrastructures to link the hardware the chip is installed into with the computers, phones or tablets that users will undoubtedly use to interact with wearables. Until this is established, it will still be some time before Edison is a perfect component for interacting with the Internet of Things.

However, Edison will not be available until this summer according to Intel. This gives them plenty of time to lay down that infrastructure beforehand. By then, Edison could be the missing link that makes it possible to connect even the most mundane objects like toasters and sweatbands to the Internet for unheard of real-life processing power.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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