Intel's certainly been putting its weight behind wearables. This year has seen it produce everything from the Intel MICA, the $1,000 smartband made of snakeskin, to the SMS Audio heart-rate sensing headphones that can harvest energy from sound – with a Basis buyout and Fossil collaboration in between.
Its scattergun approach to wearable tech has had us confused at Wareable. All these devices, collaborations and innovations are all well and good – but where is it going? In an exclusive interview at Rome Maker Faire, Aysegul Ildeniz, VP of New Devices Group at Intel told us its aim was to lead the industry's adoption of wearable tech.
"We want to bring reference design to the market and show everybody what's possible with wearables," she said.
“Our interest is building the intellectual property and technology behind wearables, beyond hardware and chips. We want to show the world what wearable technology can become, not what it is today."
"Create beautiful and wonderful things"
Ambition indeed for Intel, a company that seems to be trying to learn from its mistakes in the smartphone market. As the world's incumbent silicon maker for PCs, thousands of column inches have been devoted to chastising Intel for its near absence from the smartphone landscape.
However, Ildeniz says the company has a clear plan to making sure it's not left in the wilderness when it comes to wearable tech.
“First, we have to keep doing reference designs and creating intellectual property so that many millions of companies can take and create beautiful, wonderful things. SMS Audio and MICA are there to push people's boundaries and say, 'that's the way you could do it, so think differently,'" she said.
"We have put a fund together for companies to do smart jewellery which is a creation of a whole new market. We're also building module blocks such as socs and software that people can build upon on their own."
No more walled gardens
Ildeniz also called on companies to keep future wearable devices open, and prevent the kind of partisan, locked down experiences that have become the norm in today's technology:
“It's going to take a while for the whole industry to define the ultimate standard. But we need to keep it as open as possible, rather than these walled gardens that are being created," she said.
However, don't expect a range of exciting Intel branded wearables, as Ildeniz makes it clear that she expects fashion brands to take the lead – using Intel technology.
“Our grand vision is that the use scenarios have to be implemented by the individual industries that people use. Watchmakers, bag and coat designers know what an end user wants, because they've been doing it for years," she said.
“If they're interested in making them more useful, smarter and more interesting to humans, then I think this thing is really going to take off."