Intel, Fossil to Advance Wearable Designs

What a difference a year makes.

When Intel formed the New Devices Group, we were given a mandate to go off and investigate new opportunities and new devices that will help Intel grow its business and enable a new era of innovation across the industry. We were mostly quiet for the first few months, until the Consumer Electronics Show in January. That’s when CEO Brian Krzanich dipped into our secret stash of special projects and disclosed several prototypes to a worldwide audience including our biometric earbuds, a smart headset, a wireless charging bowl, and a wearable bracelet with compute capabilities.

Needless to say, it generated a lot of interest in our little part of Intel and also put a lot of pressure on us to turn the vision of those prototypes into a reality.

SMS Audio Biosport, designed and developed by Intel and adapted from the prototype shown at CES in January. Available later this year.Since that time, we’ve been working diligently to bring those products to life, and I’m pretty happy to say we’ve made significant progress. We’ve done it by partnering with companies and customers Intel has never worked with before. Last month, we announced a collaboration with SMS Audio to bring the earbuds to market this year. And earlier this week, we revealed MICA – a sleek, new fashion-oriented bracelet with communications functions designed with Opening Ceremony and available later this year.

We also acquired Basis, a cool, young company that overnight provided us with an experienced team, great technology, and arguably one of the best health and wellness tracking wearables on the market that we will continue to innovate around and learn from.

Intel and Fossil Group

Today, I’m excited to announce another exciting joint effort, Intel is going to collaborate with the Fossil Group, an internationally recognized company that specializes in consumer lifestyle and fashion accessories and is perhaps best known for an extensive line of watches crafted in authentic and vintage designs.

Intel and Fossil will work together to combine Intel’s technologies with Fossil’s design capabilities for future, as yet unannounced, products. Its global brand, retail presence and distribution capabilities will be a key factor in this collaboration.

In addition, Fossil Group will work closely with Intel Capital, Intel’s global investment organization, to identify and evaluate co-investments in emerging technologies to accelerate industry innovation and stay at the forefront of the wearable consumer trend.

Why Fashion?

We think it’s important to look at the wearable market beyond a simple device that is smart and connected, beyond even the silicon inside. There is a tremendous opportunity to engage in partnerships across an entirely new ecosystem of players outside of Intel’s traditional business areas, and that’s what we’re doing.

So we are working and talking to some of the most successful designers and creative innovators outside our industry, like Fossil, Opening Ceremony, Barney’s, the CDFA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and others, and finding ways to create a whole new category of products that maybe weren’t even envisioned a few short years ago.

It’s safe to say, you can expect more unique partnerships. This is really what we do best; align our technology and innovation engine with ecosystem partners to bring the best products to market. In our little corner of Intel, however, they may not be the technology companies the world is used to seeing from Intel. As Brian said recently, we’re not necessarily going to get into the direct selling of consumer devices; we do best when we partner.

We also have a tremendous amount of in-house talent and collaboration going on inside Intel – projects and ideas percolating in the Intel Labs, in the New Devices Group and elsewhere. And we continue to bring in new talent and expertise every day.

MICAWe’re also trying to harness the power of a broader ecosystem of creators, designers, makers and innovators through our Make it Wearable Challenge that Brian announced at CES. We invited people around the world to come up with cool designs for new devices with over $1 million in prize money, including $500,000 for the winning idea. The top 10 finalists, just announced this week, will have a chance to connect with Intel, industry experts and academicians who will mentor and coach them on lean startups and ways to bring their products to market regardless of who wins the top prize.

Endless Imagination

While we have made a lot of progress over the last year, we’re not showing everything yet because we want to surprise people. But at the end of the day, it’s pretty straightforward: If it is smart and connects, we want Intel inside. We want to produce the best platforms for wearables and have people build devices that show how technology can bring people together make their lives better.

There is a lot of excitement around wearables and admittedly, some hype too. We are in the early days of what could become, by some estimates, an $8 billion market over the next four years. The best part is, the market is wide open with no clear leader yet. That is a big motivator for us.

We will no doubt see innovation from many players big and small, but unlike other markets, we don’t think there will be one product, one design, one form factor that everyone gravitates too. As consumer views on new devices evolve, we’ll see things that will push the design, functionality and value envelopes, and wearable devices will become more commonly accepted.

Technology is already all around us and becoming part of who we are. But even that notion is about to be transformed again. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

What is clear is that we are entering a new era of computing, where the possibilities are endless. It’s no longer about the technology you have on your desk, on your lap or even in your pocket. Maybe it’s not even about screens.

What we do know is that we have the capability to make the world’s smallest, smartest and most complex chips; we have software that can do amazing things; we have bright minds, an emerging ecosystem, and bold new partnerships to build on. It’s really about making the right connections and having the imagination to put all these things together to make amazing things happen; inside, outside and all around us.

I can’t wait until next year.

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About Michael A. Bell

Michael A. Bell is corporate vice president and general manager of the New Devices Group for Intel Corporation. In his role, Bell leads a global team chartered with developing products and technologies that will enhance and extend Intel's product portfolio into new areas of computing, including wearable technology. Previously, Bell co-lead the Mobile and Communications Group with Hermann Eul, a worldwide organization focused on the development of hardware, software and connectivity ingredients for phones, tablets, Ultrabook™ and other mobile devices, and complete system solutions. Prior to joining Intel in 2010, Bell was part of the executive management team at Palm Inc. From 2007 to 2010 he served as senior vice president of product development. He was responsible for all aspects of product strategy, development and deployment, bringing the Palm PRE, the Palm PIXI and many more products to market. Prior to his time at Palm, Bell was vice president, CPU Software, Macintosh Hardware Division, at Apple Inc. Over the course of his career at Apple, spanning 1991 to 2007, he made significant contributions to the iMac, Apple TV and iPhone programs. Bell earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 1988.