Intel poised to launch luxury smart bracelet at Barneys

The chipmaker, which first announced plans for the bracelet in January, is expected to unveil the wearable in the coming weeks, a person familiar with the matter told CNET.

Intel, moving beyond just making the processors inside tech gadgets, is expected to announce its first luxury smart bracelet in the next few weeks, according to a person familiar with the matter.

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Barneys New York will sell Intel's new smart bracelet. Credit: Getty Images

The bracelet is being engineered by the tech company, designed by fashion house Opening Ceremony, and sold at luxury retailer Barneys New York. Intel in January announced plans to move into the wearables market with Internet-connected or smart devices at the Consumer Electronics Show, unveiling plans to make the bracelet in partnership with Barneys and Opening Ceremony as part of the effort.

"One of the greatest opportunities for wearable technology as a concept to be successful is fairly simple -- to design a beautiful accessory that our customers would desire," Daniella Vitale, COO of Barneys New York, said Jan. 6. "It is exciting to be part of an elite group of brands to bring the reality of smart fashion to life."

The wearable won't be a fitness tracker, the person said. Instead, Intel, Barneys -- a New York-based retailer known for its luxury goods -- and Opening Ceremony's brands have created a "more premium, high-end product meant for a niche type of consumer." Features and price weren't disclosed.

The new wearable could be announced around Fashion Week in New York, which starts Sept. 4, or at the Intel Developer Forum from Sept. 9 to 11, where Intel typically makes big company announcements.

Intel declined to comment.

The new wearable will be the first in a series of products Intel plans to reveal over the next three to six months in partnership with more fashion houses and lifestyle brands, the person said.

Wearables -- devices connected to the Internet that let you run apps or sync with other devices -- have so far focused on smartwatches and fitness bands, which help track sleep patterns and exercise routines. But some companies are trying to move wearable products into the high-fashion markets.

Luxury brand Ralph Lauren on Monday unveiled the Polo Tech shirt on opening day of the US Open. The shirt, which will be available next year, includes sensors knitted into the fabric to track movement and gauge performance. Ralph Lauren hasn't said how much it will cost. In June, Google started selling a more fashionable version of its Glass digital headset developed with fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg for $1,500 to $1,800.

Intel, under CEO Brian Krzanich, who took over in May 2013, is working to expand from its core business of providing chips for PCs. The chipmaker has struggled to diversify, so far failing to make a profit in mobile chips and this year agreeing to sell off its fledgling Internet-TV business to Verizon. It's now emphasizing wearables, and this month unveiled a partnership with SMS Audio to create heart-rate tracking headphones and a collaboration with Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research to consider using wearables to improve research and treatment of neurodegenerative disease.

Intel's new bracelet will go up against other tech companies trying to stake a claim in the wearables space, including Samsung, which offers smartwatches designed to work with its market-leading smartphones, and Apple, which is expected to introduce its first smartwatch -- the iWatch -- in coming months.

Despite that competition, the benefits for gaining a foothold in the wearable market could be significant for Intel. The wearables market is rapidly growing as the devices become functional and fashionable accessories. Over 19 million units are expected to be shipped by the end of this year, more than triple the total in 2013, researcher IDC said in April. That market should expand to nearly 112 million units in 2018.

 

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