Intel's fashionable MICA smart bracelet will be available in time for Christmas.
The giant chip maker for several months has been touting the MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) bracelet as an example of what it can do in the fast-growing wearable device market and how such products can be designed to look good as well as offer connectivity.
However, neither Intel nor Open Ceremony—the high-end retailer that worked with the chip vendor in designing the bracelet—released much information on MICA, including all the features it would have or when it would hit the market. They said the device would sell for less than $1,000.
Now, just more than a week before Thanksgiving, the companies are giving the industry and possible buyers a closer look at the bracelet, which features gems such as pearls, lapis stones, Russian obsidian and Tiger's Eye, black and white water snake skin, 18 karat gold plating and a curved sapphire glass touch-screen display.
The MICA will go on sale—in the United States only—in early December, and sell for $495. Buyers can get the device at Opening Ceremony New York and Los Angeles, select Barneys New York locations, and online at www.OpeningCeremony.us and www.Barneys.com.
The piece of jewelry for women will enable wearers to receive text messages and notification of incoming mail, and they can dismiss the notifications or response with quick replies. There also will be event notification based on Google Calendar and Facebook appointments and reminders that are powered by TomTom and Intel and are based on the wearer's location. The MICA will feature a vibration to signal the user of an incoming alert.
Users also will get access to local search and restaurant locations through Yelp, while security features include remote access and locking, and technology to help locate the device. In addition, wearers can configure it through a Web-based portal, and all this can be done without having to connect to a smartphone.
The $495 price includes two years of wireless service with AT&T provided by Intel. The device offers up to two days of battery life.
Ayse Ildeniz, vice president and general manager for business development and strategy for Intel's New Devices Group, said in a statement that "MICA captures Intel's philosophy that technology should enhance jewelry in order to make wearable technology truly 'wantable,' in addition to seamless and productive."
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich has made new growth markets like the Internet of things (IoT) and wearables a priority for the chip maker, which is still trying to get solid footing in smartphones and tablets after admittedly being slow to respond to the trend toward mobile devices over the past several years. The company has created an IoT business unit and the New Devices Group, and has worked on other wearable technology, including smartwatches—after buying Basis Science in March—and BioSport In-Ear headphones, in conjunction with SMS Audio.
The company last year launched the Quark family of small, low-power systems-on-a-chip (SoCs) for wearable and IoT devices.
For Intel, the wearable technology space is not only good for the devices that will sport its chips, but also the billions of transactions they will generate every day that will need to leverage the data center infrastructures that rely heavily on Intel technology. Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel's Data Center Group, said during the Intel Developer Forum in September that the 1.9 billion smartphones worldwide generate as many as 1 trillion transactions a day, but that by 2017, the amount of data created by smartphones will be surpassed by that generated by wearable devices, which will account for more than one-half the data created.
Intel's MICA is part of a growing trend among vendors to make wearable technology that is stylish and functional. For example, Hewlett-Packard earlier this month introduced the MB Chronowing luxury smartwatch, designed in conjunction with fashion designer Michael Bastian.