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Google Glass flopped, but Intel still likes smart glasses

A tiny new computer system called Joule powers smart safety glasses -- for assembly-line workers, not the general public.

Intel's tiny Joule system powers these smart glasses.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google Glass may have fizzled when people were leery of using camera-equipped eyewear in public areas, but Intel showed off smart glasses Tuesday it thinks have better prospects.

At its Intel Developer Forum Tuesday in San Francisco, the company unveiled safety glasses it said can monitor workers tightening bolts on an assembly line. The glasses, developed by French company PivotHead for aircraft manufacturer Airbus, flag problem bolts before they leave the factory.

The brains of the operation: a tiny new computer called Joule about the size of two dimes side by side. It's not anything consumers will buy, but Intel hopes it'll find a place in industry and to power myriad new computerized devices.

This area, called the internet of things, is bringing computing smarts, camera eyes and network communications to things like traffic signals and pet collars. As PC sales decline year after year, Intel is betting the internet of things will shore up its business and keep the company on the cutting edge of the world's digital future.

Now playing: Watch this: Pivothead builds AR safety glasses using Intel's Joule

The Joule is brainy enough to capture 4K video, communicate over Wi-Fi networks and run an Intel RealSense camera that captures 3D information as well as ordinary imagery. It's powered by a 2.4GHz Intel Atom processor, and has 4GB of memory, built-in graphics acceleration and can connect to outside devices with USB 3.0 ports.

General Electric is a fan. Chief Executive Jeff Immelt took to the stage at IDF, saying the internet of things will make industry more productive and lead to smart cities that are safer and less clogged with traffic.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich holds a tiny Atom chip-powered Joule 570x computing module at IDF 2016.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich holds a tiny Atom chip-powered Joule 570x computing module at IDF 2016.

Stephen Shankland/CNET