Intel is moving fast to fill a void left in the nascent wearable industry, one that is left by major technology companies churning out wearable devices that look more like clunky smartphones with wrist straps than smart devices that people would actually want to wear to work or on a date.
On Wednesday, the computer chip maker introduced its very own smart luxury bracelet for women, a project first announced in January at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this year. Dubbed MICA, short for My Intelligent Communication Accessory, the bracelet was designed as a fashion accessory first and a smart device second.
"The wearables market currently exists in two categories - sports wearables that track performance and wearables that are pretty much a cell phone crammed into a small space," says Aysegul Ildeniz, vice president and general manager for business development and strategy at Intel's new devices group. "We have to grow the pie collectively. We need to go after audiences not addressed currently by wearables and make them much more aesthetically pleasing."
Intel teamed up with fashion house Opening Ceremony to come up with a smart bracelet that people would actually like to wear. On the outside, it looks like a regular cuff bracelet made from leather and embedded with stones. MICA comes in two designs. One features Chinese pearls and lapis lazuli stones flown all the way from Madagascar crafted into black water-snake skin leather. The other has white water-snake skin leather with Russian obsidian and tiger's eye from South Africa.
Tucked neatly into the inside of the bracelet, however, is a 1.6-inch curved sapphire glass display that users can get access to when they open the clasp of the bracelet. Intel has said little about the bracelet's capabilities as a communication device, but says it is "intended for use for women who would want to be connected to their loved ones all the time."
This means MICA could likely be used to push notifications for things such as SMS, calendar reminders and social media alerts, likely through vibrational feedback. MICA also has its own 3G cellular radio, which allows the device to be connected to the Internet even without linking to the user's smartphone, though no word has yet been made on which carriers will carry MICA at launch. Intel says users can also charge the device via USB cable or wirelessly.
Intel did not specify a price for its new wearable, but it could likely cost somewhere in the $500 to $1,000 price range in line with other jewelry sold by Opening Ceremony.
MICA is expected to make its first public appearance next week at Opening Ceremony's spring/summer fashion show at New York City's Fashion Week, where models will be seen sporting the bracelet on the runway.