Intel's button-size Curie will power all kinds of wearables

Intel believes the chip will serve as a platform for new product. It is set to debut in the second half of the year.

LAS VEGAS -- Intel is packing a lot of punch in a much smaller package.

Intel's tiny Curie chip. James Martin/CNET

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich unveiled Curie, a button-size chip that includes a processor, Bluetooth low-energy radio, sensors and a dedicated engine to determine different sporting activity. It's also able to run for extended periods with a coin-size battery, or can be recharged. Such a minuscule chip could power wearables of different designs, from rings to pendants to clothes, Krzanich said at his keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show on Tuesday.

"This changes the game of wearables," he said.

The chip giant, while still dominant in PCs, missed the rise of smartphones and wants to avoid the same fate with the burgeoning market for wearable technology. Realizing it can't go it alone, the company has partnered with a number of different companies, including eyeglass maker Luxottica, watchmaker Fossil and design house Opening Ceremony. In September, it unveiled Mica, a smart bracelet that costs under $1,000.

Intel brought out new partner Oakley and its CEO, Colin Baden, who talked about the opportunities that come from integrating Curie into eyewear.

Curie is just out of the labs, Krzanich said, adding that he expects it to launch in the second half of the year.

Intel has been on more of an experimental bent over the past year, flexing its innovation muscles by showing off a number of unique concept products. A wireless charging bowl that debuted a year ago at the company's keynote at CES was one of the most buzzed-about items at the show.

The move to be more aggressive has been a result of the lessons learned from its experience with mobile. Intel continues to lose billions of dollars chasing after the market to supply chips to smartphones, but has largely been outgunned by incumbent Qualcomm, as well as MediaTek, which sells lower costs chips for mobile devices.

For more, check out the transcript of CNET's live blog of Intel's presentation.

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