Intel over the past few weeks has continued to press forward with its efforts in the growing wearable device market, taking advantage of high-profile fashion shows in New York and Paris to show off its capabilities and putting its financial backing behind a startup in the industry.
Intel officials view the wearable space—indeed, the internet of things (IoT) market as a whole—as a significant growth area for the company and is aggressively moving away from its legacy as a PC chip maker to be the foundational tech supplier for an increasingly connected world. The vendor for several years has been expanding into the area of connected wearable devices, and showed off its latest innovations over the past several weeks.
Most recently, Intel and Luxottica Group this week unveiled the Oakley-branded Radar Pace smart eyewear (pictured), which essentially acts as a virtual coach for wearers while running or cycling. The smart glasses, which sell for $449 on the Oakley website, connect to free smartphone apps for Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android mobile operating systems and use Intel’s Real Speech technology to communicate with the wearer.
The Radar Pace eyewear, via the apps, can develop a training program based on the wearer’s goals and training already completed and track the wearer’s performance, according to officials with both companies. The device interprets data in real time and, through ear buds attached to the sides and an integrated microphone, can coach the wearer in the moment and respond to the user’s questions, giving the person a hands-free and natural way to work out, they said.
In addition, through the Bluetooth headset, the user also can make and receive calls, listen to music and text.
Intel first began working with Luxottica in 2014 to develop smart, fashionable eyewear. Radar Pace came after years of joint research and development between the two companies. The device collects and analyzes a range of data around the user’s performance, from heart rate and speed to cadence, time, pace and distance. It takes the information and uses it for audio coaching.
Ryan Saylor, vice president of advanced product development at Oakley, said the combination of expertise from his company and Intel has created “a game changer in training and coaching. One of the biggest benefits is the accountability—the coach being there with the athletes to help get the most out of every workout.”
During Fashion Week in Paris, designer Hussein Chalayan showed off smart glasses and belts powered by Intel’s tiny Curie wearables module, which projected the stress levels of the models wearing them on the surrounding walls. Intel officials said the data is collected by the Curie module and sent to the belt via Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity. A Compute Stick from Intel is used to process the data and a small projector in the belt is used to project the data onto the wall in front of the model to show real-time stress levels .
“The result was not only an amazing visual experience for show goers, but an exciting step forward in creating desirable, tech-infused wearables that empower the wearer to understand and respond to the world around them,” Sandra Lopez, a vice president in Intel’s New Technology Group who also oversees strategic relationships and business development within the unit, wrote in a post on the company blog.
Intel Smart Eyewear Deal With Oakley Latest Move in Wearables Push
Other devices unveiled during Fasion Week include a smart bracelet and sustainable bag powered by Intel and developed by Tome. The bracelet enables users to stay connected while the bag gathers such data as ambient temperature, barometric pressure and toxic gases, and can send alerts. Meanwhile, Baja East unveiled a smart, connected shoe that tracks fitness data.
Intel late last month announced a partnership with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries to develop a wearable platform that includes a smartphone and smartwatch that will help monitor patients with Huntington’s, a degenerative disease that leads to a decline in motor control and cognitive abilities. The smartphone and smartwatch will measure the user’s movements.
In addition, Thalmic Labs announced last month that it had raised $120 million in funding led by Intel Capital, the chip maker’s investment arm. Thalmic, founded in 2012, developed Myo, a gesture-control armband that uses the electricity activity of the user’s muscles to control devices such as drones and smartphones.
The global wearable market is growing quickly. According to IDC analysts, in the second quarter, unit shipments increased 26.1 percent year over year, fueled by the market for basic wearables—devices such as fitness trackers that don’t run third-party apps—which grew 48.8 percent. Smart wearables—such as smartwatches—dropped 27.7 percent.
Also in the second quarter, revenue for Intel’s Internet of Things segment, which includes wearables, grew 2 percent over the same period in 2015 to $572 million.