Connor Livingston Connor Livingston is a tech blogger who will be launching his own site soon, Lythyum. He lives in Oceanside, California, and has never surfed in his life. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Intel’s new processors are always on and always listening

1 min read

There’s a new feature for Intel’s next-generation Skylake processors that’s definitely going to have privacy activists up in arms. In order for voice-activated Cortana commands to work for Windows 10 devices while they’re in a low power state, these new processors are equipped with secret hardware that allows them to always be listening. Technically this feature was included with Intel’s last-generation processors but there wasn’t any software to utilize it like Windows 10 can.

Intel’s newest Skylake processors have a slightly creepy new feature — they’re always listening to you. Shout “hey Cortana” or “Cortana, wake up” at a Windows 10 machine with one of the new chips, and your voice will be picked up by a digital signal processor secreted inside the chip that will rouse your PC from its low power state. Once it wakes up, Cortana takes over and you can use all the standard voice commands, including telling the digital to play music or videos. The company announced the new feature at its Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco today. A similar option also appeared on Microsoft’s Xbox One and Motorola’s Moto X smartphone, but as with those devices, after the novelty wears off, you might find it easier to simply turn on your machine in the normal way instead of yelling at it from across the room. Intel didn’t mention how much power the always-listening mode will drain or how much it will affect the standby power, nor whether users would need any extra hardware in order to boss their computer around with words. Although Intel said voice activation was technically possible with last year’s Core M chips, it’s only now with Windows 10 and its Cortana integration that PCs can take advantage of the feature.

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Connor Livingston Connor Livingston is a tech blogger who will be launching his own site soon, Lythyum. He lives in Oceanside, California, and has never surfed in his life. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

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