IDF, San Francisco – Connected Visual Computing (CVC) may be a technology that few people have heard of, but as aspects of the Internet such as social networks continue to mushroom, it is one that will become increasingly prevalent.

Jim Held, Intel fellow and director tera-scale research computing program, says there are a number of trends driving the move into CVC.
"Trends such as social networking," Held says. "People are interacting with others in ways we have never known in the past with the likes of daily diaries, home-made videos. Then there is broadband access, which allows users to move around – and the mobile devices with improved form factors, improved connectivity and better battery life which follow us around.
"All these factors are starting to enable [connected] visual computing," he says.
During his presentation, Held cited two categories in particular where CVC is set to make the biggest impact: simulated environments such as virtual worlds, online multiplayer games and 3D cinema; and augmented reality where images from the real world are combined with digital information to provide an enhanced view of the world around us.
Virtual worlds, he says, is already proving to be an important usage model and is growing exponentially.
There were about 2 000 virtual worlds last year with about 60-mllion users. These were estimated to have increased to 303-million by June of this year, and are expected to reach 1-billion users in the next 10 years.
"Fifty percent of the users today are kids between the ages of four and 12," Held says. "And they are spending 16 hours a week in these virtual worlds – more time than they spend on television or magazines."
But while new technologies such as CVC may be on the horizon, Held says there are some major challenges.
"The key technical challenges in bringing these usages to the mainstream include new client/server platform innovations, more robust distributed computing techniques, tools to facillitate user-generated 3D content and techniques to improve experiences on mobile devices," he says.
Intel's newest architecture Larabee, Held says, is one example of its efforts toward supporting visual computing.