Intel's Curie chip to convey thrills and spills of Winter X Games

Wireless sensors will carry live action data from snowboards to viewers' TV screens

If you tune into the Winter X Games in Colorado later this month you should get a heightened sense of the action thanks to a tie-up between Intel and ESPN, which sponsors the event.

Wireless chips from Intel will be mounted on snowboards used in the competition, and transmit data about athletes' performance such as how high they jump and how far they rotate. The information will be displayed on TVs at home as people watch the broadcast.

It's a new use case for the Internet of Things, in which everyday objects are fitted with sensors and transmit data. It could also be good marketing for Intel, if it turns out to be interesting to watch.

CEO Brian Krzanich announced the ESPN tie-up during his keynote on the opening night of CES in Las Vegas. To give an idea of what the experience will be like, he invited a couple of BMX riders on stage to do some tricks.

Their bikes had Curie chips in the seat and handlebars. When the riders left the ramps on stage and flipped in the air, the sensors displayed their height, rotation, and the type of trick they were doing on a screen in the background. It figured out the trick using a pattern recognition technology embedded in the chip.

"Our hope is to bring this to every type of athletics event," Krzanich said. He also announced that Intel's button-sized Curie chip will finally ship in volume in the first quarter of this year, meaning it could show up in wearables and other products within the year.

Krzanich also showed a technology that takes recorded sports events and turns them into a type of realistic 3D animation, so people can watch replays of the highlights and change the viewing angle on a touch screen tablet, much as you can navigate through a 360 degree video.

"We believe we're on the cusp of a breakthrough in live sports," Krzanich said.

He also announced a partnership with Red Bull, another sponsor of sporting events, and said they'll work together on projects similar to the one with ESPN.

Intel's button-sized Curie wearable computer Intel

Curie is the size of a button

Intel first showed its Curie chip at CES last year. It's a tiny chip, the size of a thumbnail, and incorporates a CPU along with a Bluetooth radio, motion sensors and a small battery.

Intel dominates the PC and server markets, but it largely missed out on the smartphone business. It's working hard to make sure it doesn't miss the Internet of Things as well.

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