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Outside Intel, Mad Scientists are Hard at Work

A popular Web comic portrays a stick figure feverishly typing at a keyboard. "Are you coming to bed?" he's asked, off-panel. "I can't," he replies. "Someone is wrong on the Internet!"

What if someone else could do that work for you? An Intel project that the company presented at its R&D day at U.C. Berkeley envisioned just that, together with steerable antennas, crowdsourced air quality controls, remote controls that know who you are, and a game to create the most realistic virtual world through pictures.

Intel operates three laboratories in conjunction with universities, at U.C. Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Washington. At each, the chipmaker works with students and professors on pure research, which may or may not end up as a product. Intel executives have said many times that a downturn is the best time to come up with new products, to capitalize on the recovery when it arrives, a sentiment Justin Rattner, the chief technology officer at Intel, said in an interview on Thursday. "It's counter-intuitive, but a recession is the best time to be introducing new products," he said.

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