Intel researcher Jennifer Healey stepped onto a stage decorated with a mad scientist's lab in mind and made her case for gossiping cars.
Her place was soon taken by colleague Eric Dishman, who brought the audience to its feet with a poignant tale weaving a transplant that saved his life with his vision to re-invent how health care is handled.
Potentially world-changing passions of those working behind the scenes at the leading computer chip maker were spotlighted at Intel on Wednesday in the first TED event produced exclusively in a company with the employees being the stars.
TED—originally known as Technology, Entertainment and Design—has built a global following for its online videos of inspiring talks devoted to "ideas worth spreading."
Presentations, made available free online at ted.com and other venues, have traditionally come from the non-profit group's annual conferences and at sanctioned satellite TED events.
This week marked the first time TED went behind the walls of a corporation to produce talks bearing its trademark combination of brilliance, innovation, and heartfelt drive to make the world a better place.
"There is a gigantic well of interesting ideas in corporations that are not tied to products but to activism and social impact," said TEDGlobal director Bruno Giussani, who hosted the TED@Intel event.
"Our goal is to use the TED format to unlock some of those ideas and make them more visible."
Healey shared research aimed at letting cars use short-range signals to share information ranging from where they are and how fast they are going to what is happening inside or outside vehicles.
"Our cars can talk about us behind our backs and it can be a good thing," Healey said. "Let your car gossip about you; it is going to make the roads a lot safer."
For example, cars could confide in one another about a speeding motorcyclist approaching from behind or a problem in the road ahead.
Intel is backing testing of using sensors, cameras and position location technology in cars along with radio signals to let them "talk" to one another when close by, according to Healey.
Research is also being done into letting cars detect when drivers are looking away from the road, perhaps turning their attention to a mobile phone, car radio or cup of coffee, she added.
"We can predict who is going to have the accident and which cars should move out of the way to make the safest route," Healey said. "These technologies exist today; the biggest problem we face is getting people to share data."
Dishman plugged a wand made by Mobisante in Washington state into a smartphone and did an on-stage ultrasound scan on his abdomen, sharing the image real-time in an online consultation with a doctor.
"This is an example of mobile, social and analytic technologies; a foundation of what is going to make personal health care possible," Dishman said.
Dishman laid out a vision of shifting medical care from hospitals to homes, with people coordinating exams and treatment with teams of professionals.
He said that his Intel team is exploring the approach in a project working with seniors in China.
"TED stages are often about celebrating innovations and technologies," Dishman said. "But, until all these technologies are available it is up to us to take care of ourselves and each other."
Talks ranged from efficient ways to fuel deep space exploration to being a "plucky rebel" in a corporate workplace or being technically fit to parent.
TED@Intel was a chance to showcase a personal, passionate side of chip making, according to Intel global director of co-marketing Elizabeth Broers.
"It is all about silicon at the very rudimentary level, but you put it together and there are big stories," Broers said, referring to the basic chip material.
"We are thinking about what those technologies will mean for you," she continued. "Not just faster processing power but what that power enables around health care, safety, education and even cars potentially talking to each other."
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