Normally, Intel’s press conferences focus heavily on some new processor or graphics component. Yet there’s no new ultrabook processor to talk about, as they just started to hit store shelves a few months ago.

But that doesn’t mean Intel had nothing to show. Instead the focused on other technologies that the company wants to make a part of the ultrabook experience. A number of these were input technologies, and in this regard, Intel seems to be taking the kitchen sink approach. New and prototype laptops were shown with touch input, gesture input and even voice input.

Touch received the lion’s share of attention. Intel has decided that touchscreens are important, and wants them to be included as part of the ultrabook specification. The short demo given by Intel showed a Windows 8 ultrabook performing all the usual stunts such as scrolling and pinch-to-zoom.

They did have a new trick to show, however – a prototype laptop with a transparent touchpad/palmrest surface. The idea behind this is that when the laptop is closed, the transparent surface becomes a mini-touchscreen that can be used for Windows 8 notifications. It’s a bit hard to wrap your head around without seeing it in person, but hopefully the photos help.

Other laptops with touch input included a HP convertible slider that loses the touchpad entirely in exchange for touchscreen input. Also shown was a Compal laptop that appeared to be a 12” or 13” Windows 8 tablet with a keyboard dock. Intel didn’t specifically reference it during the conference, however, so details on it are sparse.  

Gesture recognition was hinted at via a system that seems to work much like Microsoft’s Kinect. Intel would like users to be able to move through files without touching anything at all. However, only a basic slingshot demo was shown at the press conference, indicating that it may be some time before it bares fruit. The new voice recognition features, which are being implemented in partnership with Nuance, were not demoed at all. However, Siri-like functionality was hinted at.

Finally, Intel briefly showed a secure wireless payment system in which a user can fill in online payment details simply by placing their credit card on or near their ultrabook. Not just anyone will be able to use it, however – you’ll have to bind your card to the PC beforehand.

Most of these features are things that we’ve seen before in smartphones or tablets, indicating that Intel is now playing a bit of catch-up with the mobile market.

Intel was not entirely devoid of hints at upcoming performance improvements. The new Ivy Bridge graphics component is apparently going to be over 80% better than current Intel IGP graphics and support DX11, but that’s all we know. You’ll have to wait until the Ivy Bridge Conference tomorrow for Intel to spill details – check back in tomorrow for our coverage of that event.

Intel Shows New Ultrabook Features for 2012, Focuses on User Interface - Mobile  1

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