Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) has long dominated the PC chip market, as its chips are the processors for over 80% of the computers in use in the world today. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc. (NYSE:AMD) and other chipmakers, however, supply almost all of the processors for the rapidly growing smartphone and tablet markets. This situation has left Intel scrambling for future growth drivers, especially given across-the-board declining PC sales.

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After it became clear they were effectively locked out of the mobile market, Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) decided to take an end-around approach. Management and their lead developers decided the best solution was to make the PC relevant again, and the best way to do that was to make PCs more useful to people.

They decided what people really wanted from their IT devices was useful interactivity. Computers that can perceive depth and interpret emotions can do things such as count the number of fingers held up or assess the emotional state of the user, which means a vast new range of computer-human interactions are made possible.

Perceptual computing

Perceptual computing involves developing methods to help technology interpret what’s going on around it. Giving computers the ability to recognize gestures as well as facial and voice recognition, will make devices more natural, easier to use and immersive.

Leadership at Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) decided that the development of this kind of ground-breaking project required a new approach. So they decided to completely flip the development cycle. Instead of developing the hardware, and then creating the software for it, Intel management decided to develop the software first, then design the hardware around the specific features the software supports.

Intel software development kit

Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) released a software development kit more than a year ago to get developers interested in perceptual technology. The kit has already been downloaded over 26,000 times. Intel is even sponsoring contests with more than $100 million in prizes — to create interest among developers. Furthermore, management added a full year to the development process to ensure the perceptual computing technology would be mature — and game-changing — upon release.

3-D cameras

Depth perception is a key ability for computers to effectively interact with humans. Computers can be endowed with depth perception through 3D cameras, and 3D-camera technology is behind most of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC)’s early perceptual computing efforts. The company has established a partnership with Creative on 3D cameras, which are likely to be available integrated into devices including PCs and tablets by June 2014.