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Wearable Tech

Intel processor could be in next-gen Google Glass as chipmaker eyes wearables

Intel doesn't want to repeat the billion-dollar mistakes it made in the mobile market.

Glassketball: Sacramento Kings point guard Ray McCallum Jr. dunks while wearing Google Glass. James Martin/CNET

Intel has its eyes on one of the biggest prizes in wearable technology as reports say it will provide the chip for the next generation of Google Glass.

The current model of Glass contains a processor made by Texas Instruments. Left behind in the market for mobile processors, Intel wants to establish a foothold in wearable technology, and there's few more high-profile wearables than Google's specs.

Glass is a head-worn frame with a tiny screen set above one eye to show you a heads-up display of data like your messages or augmented reality. It's controlled by tapping on the side or voice commands prefaced by saying "OK Google...", which makes it hands-free. The next version is reported to be on its way next year.

Intel wants to expand the use of Glass in hospitals and other workplaces, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Google already has a scheme called Glass at Work, which sees the Big G working with software developers to come up with ways to use Glass in working environments. Specifically, these include factories and on-work sites that require hands-free access to data. However only a small fraction of the Glass team are focused on business uses of Glass.

Intel has been desperately trying to claw its way into the market for chips in mobile devices, losing billions of dollars in the process -- a billion just last quarter, for example. Intel Chairman Andy Bryant admitted Intel had been "sitting on the sidelines for a number of years... I'm not going to tell you I'm proud of losing the kind of money we're losing".

But in cheerleading the company's progress in the mobile market Bryant added, "I'm not embarrassed by it like I was a year ago".

Intel doesn't want to make the same mistake twice, and is endeavouring to get in on the ground floor of the nascent wearable technology market. Intel has developed a specialised microcomputer called Edison powered by a special processor called Quark that will run wearables, drones and DIY projects. The chipmaker has bought fitness-tracker company Basis Science. It's also teamed up with rapper 50 Cent's SMS Audio to build BioSport headphones, and Taiwan-based electronic textile manufacturer AIQ for a smart shirt.

Intel is the leading chipmaker for computers but the market for processors in phones and tablets is dominated by Qualcomm's Snapdragon chip, with other contenders including Nvidia's Tegra.