Intel is ditching health and fitness wearables for augmented reality

The New Technologies Group is reportedly throwing in the towel on wrist wearables
Intel swaps trackers for AR

Intel is reportedly killing off its wrist-wearable ambitions to focus on getting augmented reality right.

There's no official announcement but various anonymous sources at Intel have told CNBC that Intel has been slowly winding down the teams in the New Technologies Group working on fitness trackers and health focused wearables.

Last November, the word is that Intel moved 80% of the Basis team to other parts of the company after the overheating recall fiasco. That month we saw pics of an unreleased Basis Ruby device and Intel put out a statement saying it was not stepping back from wearables. Incidentally, the New Technologies (or Devices) Group has had three heads in as many years as Intel tried to find its way - fashion, fitness etc.

Read this: Intel on the key to smartwatch survival

The report only concerns projects in the New Technologies Group, and there's no suggestion that its smartwatch processors are affected. Intel SOCs power the two Tag Heuer Connected watches and the New Balance RunIQ and there's no information to suggest that it won't power future smartwatches.

Intel is ditching health and fitness wearables for augmented reality

When we spoke to head of product Ethan Fassett on smartwatches this January, he said: "There's a lot more value to be extracted from things like physical sensing. Optical heart rate is one thing. Contextual awareness is another very exciting avenue. We think that will create these kind of powerful use cases that will start to focus the smartwatch vision."

Moving to other areas of the body, the news puts into question whether the Oakley Radar Pace was a one-off or a category with potential. We're also wondering what these reports mean for the news that we reported that both Intel and Fitbit were looking to snap up Moov.

As for AR, we have already taken a look inside the tech that powers its "merged reality" Project Alloy reference headset so expect to see more from that. Most of the big players are yet to show their cards when it comes to consumer AR glasses or visors, though Qualcomm is one of Magic Leap's big investors.

If Intel is jumping into AR, along with Apple, Google, Facebook and the rest, that only means good news for the technology. We just hope it focuses a little more on the substance of the silicon this time and not so much on showy competitions and collaborations.

Intel is ditching trackers and smartwatches for augmented reality


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