So Intel is in the news today. Remember them? Back before every tech commercial on TV was about mobile devices, its circular logo and sound signature were everpresent at the end of PC commercials.

I mean, Intel is still the king of PCs, but that kingdom ain’t what it used to be and the company hasn’t quite been able to annex mobile. So in an attempt to increase its relevance, Intel is investing in the development of what it’s calling “perceptual computing.” According to a C/NET article:

Intel has devoted significant resources and efforts to something it calls “perceptual computing.” Perceptual computing may sound like a jargony, marketing term, but it does just what it says – it uses the senses to help technology interpret what’s going on around it. Those features, such as gestures, facial recognition, and voice recognition, should all make devices more “natural, intuitive, and immersive,” says Anil Nanduri, one of the Intel executives in charge of the company’s efforts in perceptual computing.

And, yeah, like the article implies, it sounds a bit gimmicky…but it is definitely the direction we’re going. I talk to my phone pretty regularly these days, and thanks to devices like Microsoft’s Kinect and the Leap Motion 3D controller, I’ve done my share of gesticulating at computers, too.

But more than it being a trend, it’s the ultimate interaction. When we communicate with each other, we don’t use a single avenue of input or need specialized peripherals. We just communicate.

So once a computer can start sensing emotions in a person’s voice and face, seeing the fine details of body language like finger twitches and posture, and then react accordingly then we have a whole new definition of “personal computer.”

Back in the day, “Intel Inside” meant you were getting something fast and powerful. If Intel is really investing Elon Musk-levels of money, brain power, and determination into making perceptual computing natural and useful, “Intel Inside” could start meaning something much more nuanced.

Photo credit: Dan Zen, Flickr