Intel dives into wearables with new smartwatch and headset devices

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based chipmaker is trying to prove it's no longer just a PC company, introducing new devices and partnerships.

Richard Nieva Former senior reporter
Richard Nieva was a senior reporter for CNET News, focusing on Google and Yahoo. He previously worked for PandoDaily and Fortune Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, on CNNMoney.com and on CJR.org.
Richard Nieva
3 min read
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich James Martin/CNET
Intel wants to prove that it's not just a PC company anymore.

As the world has shifted to devices for people on the go, the company is trying to make sure it keeps apace with the market. Chief Executive Brian Krzanich on Monday introduced a bevy of wearable related technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

One of the new wearables he showed off is a headset nicknamed Jarvis that can integrate with a personal assistant app on a phone without even touching it. Krzanich said it will work with an assistant that Intel is developing but will also work with an existing assistant. (Siri, anyone?) The other is a set of earbuds with biometric capabilities and gets power from a phone's headphone jack.

Oh, and he also mentioned a smart onesie for babies. It transmits the baby's breathing and other information to a connected coffee cup, which reflects the condition on a little digital display. The product line is made possible by the Intel Edison, a newly announced computing system inside an SD card that has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, with an Intel processor and multicontroller core.

The company also introduced a smartwatch that has smart "geo-fencing" which, Krzanich says, has the capability to monitor the person who's wearing it from afar. One use case: in case of an emergency and a person steps out of the geo-fence, the watch can send out an alert. "You can imagine all kinds of applications," said Krzanich. Still, some consumers may have privacy concerns.

And to try to keep the "wear" in wearable, the company has partnered with brands like Barney's New York and the Council of the Fashion Designers of America to collaborate on bringing future wearables to market.

The chipmaker is a Silicon Valley stalwart but hasn't always been on the cutting edge of innovation. Krzanich tried to change some of that perception during his keynote. The company has been working on what it calls "perceptual computing," which aims to help a computer sense what's going on around it by using methods like facial recognition, gestures and voice recognition.

The company has also shown a serious interest in Android, indicating that it wants to turn it into an operating system used more for just mobile screens, but devices like PCs, much like Windows is used. On Monday, Krzanich announced a dual Windows and Android processor. Users will be able to switch between the two operating systems with the switch of a button.

Earlier in the day, the company unveiled its first manifestation of perceptual computing: a 3D camera, part of a product line called Real Sense. The slim camera -- about the size of an index finger -- can do things like replace a subject's background during conference calling like a green screen would, or read gesturing to navigate through screens. At the keynote, Krzanich talked up a scanner that would be able to do a 3D scan of a physical object into a tablet.

Closing the keynote, Krzanich also announced that every Intel device is now "conflict free," no longer sourcing materials from war-torn regions like the Democratic Republic of the Congo to build chips for its processors.