Intel buys smart-eyewear maker Recon

The purchase builds on Intel's effort to become the go-to chipmaker for wearable devices like smartglasses and smartwatches.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
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The Recon Jet, now an Intel product. Sarah Tew / CNET

Intel's is keeping up its push to become a bigger name in wearables, announcing Wednesday it acquired private Canadian smart-eyewear maker Recon Instruments.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

Recon makes glasses for sports and fitness with a lot of the same functions as Google's troubled Glass eyewear, which the search giant in January decided to stop selling for now after the device faced privacy concerns. Recon's Jet glasses, which cost about $700 each, have a built-in display to show directions and activity statistics during a run, and also connect to a smartphone to offer texts and notifications. It has a camera for taking photos and videos, as well. The company also sells the Recon Snow2, for alpine skiing.

"Going forward, we'll continue leading the smart eyewear category for sports, and we'll be able to bring our technology and innovation to completely new markets," Dan Eisenhardt, Recon's co-founder and CEO, said in a statement Wednesday.

Buying Recon continues Intel's effort in the past year to expand into wearables, as it tries to make itself the go-to chips company for the burgeoning market of smartwatches, smartglasses and other Internet-connected devices. Intel, which dominates the personal-computer and data-center chips markets, missed the boom in smartphones and doesn't want to repeat that mistake. For now, though, Intel generates a tiny slice of its revenue from wearables sales.

Since last year, the chipmaker has unveiled many notable partnerships, including an agreement along with Google to help Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer create smartwatches and a deal with watchmaker Fossil Group. In December, Intel announced a deal with Luxottica Group, the largest eyeglass makers in the world, to add smart technology to luxury eyewear. Buying Recon, which Intel has previously invested in, could help build on any projects in the works by the two firms.

So far, only a handful of Intel-backed wearables have hit the market, including Intel's MICA smart bracelet, Basis smartwatches and the SMS Audio BioSport headphones.

Sales of Recon products will continue without disruption, Intel said. The Recon team will partner with Intel's New Devices Group to develop new wearables technologies.

Recon Jet hands-on (pictures)

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