Intel's XMM 6255 modem

There are already smartwatches and other wearables with cellular data built-in, but the bulky hardware they need for that wireless access makes them less than elegant. Intel clearly isn't happy with this state of affairs, as it just unveiled an extra-tiny modem that should put truly sleek, always-connected devices on your body -- and seemingly everywhere else. The new XMM 6255 isn't much larger than a penny (0.47 square inches), but delivers a full-fledged 3G data link. It's built to take abuses like power spikes, and it doesn't need a big antenna to get a good connection; it can even get solid performance in a low-signal area like your basement.

The company isn't ready to say just who's using the miniscule modem in finished products, but the technology could be relatively ubiquitous. Besides more wearables that don't have to rely on your phone to get online, you could see a larger internet of things where even relatively small devices have their own internet service; it's reasonable to expect a lot of smart sensors and security systems that can always talk to the outside world.