It looks increasingly likely that 2014 will be the breakthrough year for wearable technology. We’ve seen wristbands and headsets galore, from various companies, and now Intel is getting in on the act. Intel CEO, Brian Krzanich, unveiled a range of interesting wearable devices at his pre-show keynote for International CES.
“Wearables are not everywhere today because they aren’t yet solving real problems and they aren’t yet integrated with our lifestyles,” said Krzanich. “We’re focused on addressing this engineering innovation challenge. Our goal is, if something computes and connects, it does it best with Intel inside.”
The company briefly showed off a prototype smartwatch, which adheres to the usual feature set, but is apparently also capable of receiving location-based notifications. Krzanich didn’t elaborate on the details. There was also mention of a partnership with Barneys, The Council of Fashion Designers of America, to create a smart bracelet, part of Krzanich’s plan to work with fashion companies to make wearable devices with style.
Intel revealed smart earphones aimed at the fitness industry next. These sensor packed earbuds are designed to measure your heart rate and record biometric and workout data. They look similar to LG’s Heart Rate Earphones and signal an impending war for the fitness tracker market, which is leading the charge to wearable tech. Intel’s earphones are powered by your smartphone jack. That means there’s no need to charge them and no need for a separate wristband. You just need a tracking app on your smartphone and the earphones will do the rest.
Perhaps the most interesting reveal was Jarvis, a distinctive Bluetooth headset that’s designed to wrap around the back of your ear and pair with an Android app on your smartphone. You use voice commands to control it and it’s always listening, so there’s no power button. The headset can use your phone to get directions, perform a Web search, find restaurants nearby, make a call, and generally act as a virtual assistant, much like Siri or Google Now.
How do you power Jarvis up? Intel has thought of everything, including a charging bowl. This is a wireless charging device that you drop Jarvis or any other wearables you may have into and it starts charging them up automatically.
These are typical reference designs from Intel. As CEO Brian Krzanich explained, they are part of Intel’s push to “make everything smart”. The company won’t be releasing these products itself, but rather it’s hoping to inspire some partners to carry some of these ideas through to market.
Earlier in the day Intel showed off its new RealSense 3D camera which promises to bring gesture controls and facial recognition to computing.