Taking the stage at the launch of the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45, Intel's VP of New Devices Group Jerry Bautista mostly talked about the company's role in building Tag's new smartwatch. But he also dropped a teaser for an app that will be launching later this year on the Modular watch, and it might turn out to be the most interesting new feature.
As it turns out, Intel is building a smartwatch app that's all about smart scheduling. It doesn't have a sexy fembot type name yet. Instead, Bautista calls it "an experience for time management", and the idea is that it works as a more intelligent Google Assistant. He gave an example on stage: "If I set an alarm to pick up milk on my way home, I don't have to specify the time I'm leaving work. I just simply have to say, 'When I leave work remind me to pick up milk,' and it knows to remind me whenever I leave."
He described it as being not necessarily anchored in time, but in events and information about your current state, as well as the state of your friends and family.
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We questioned Bautista a little more during an interview, in which he revealed it will be an app that will come first to the new Tag Modular 45 watch exclusively, some time in the summer. It will draw on multiple data sources, not just the user's but - assuming they have opted in - those of the people you connect to. He also gave us a more detailed example of what this might look like.
"Say you call me and I don't answer the phone," he explained. "The watch will say, 'Hey, do you want a reminder to call back?' And I'll say yes. Now, the simple thing would be that it looks at my calendar and goes, 'You have an opening from 3:00 - 3:30, let's schedule a phone call then.' And maybe that's OK, but maybe it's not OK."
Where Intel's assistant will apparently come into its own is getting to know you and taking that info to make genuinely useful suggestions.
"The next layer of intelligence would be where it looks at the call history when you and I would normally speak," said Bautista. "And say it turns out you and I normally speak when we're commuting home, my scheduler should take that into account, and not schedule at 3:00 - 3:30 but just say, 'Look, you normally talk at 6pm when you both leave work, so do it then.'
"But it doesn't help me to just remind me when I leave work - you have to leave too. So the scheduler knows when we both leave, and the reminder comes when we both leave, because then we can actually make the call when we normally do."
And how will it know we've both left? Because I'd be running the same app in this scenario, and will presumably have granted it access to my calendars and call logs. Bautista explained it as less like having an intelligent computer help plan your day, and more like having a PA sat next to you: "How would they make suggestions about my schedule?"
It wouldn't just look at when we're most likely to speak either, but also things like the length of our conversations. "If we normally talk 20 minutes, and our overlap today, because I left before you did, is only five minutes, it might say, 'You can call him now, but you only have five minutes because you're going to be home soon, so it's going to be a short call. Should we try tomorrow?"
We recently tested out some of Intel's smart AI in action in the Oakley Radar Pace, and we're all the more fascinated to see what this smartwatch assistant will end up looking like. While it will launch as a Tag smartwatch exclusive, Bautista said he expects the software will "propagate more broadly" over time. He also acknowledged the importance of protecting privacy as you go further down the contextual AI rabbit hole.
"The notion of privacy and security is critically important," he said. "Because now you're kind of learning about people, so these are automated engines working in the background. No one ever reads this stuff. In fact our systems are designed in such a way that I couldn't even see where you are, but the AI engine does."
Whatever Intel is cooking up, Google Assistant and Siri might want to get back into training to make sure they don't fall behind.