Intel ‘eliminates’ division responsible for wearable devices, switching focus to AR
You know that stylish Ruby fitness watch Intel sold as a direct Fitbit Charge 2 competitor after snapping up its makers, wearable device-specialized Basis Science Inc., for around $100 million a few years ago?
Of course you don’t, because the Basis Ruby never actually saw the light of day. Meanwhile, the Peak, despite critical acclaim and decent mainstream popularity back when the Apple Watch was still in R&D, ultimately proved a very costly failure for its Santa Clara-based parent company.
Predictably, Intel swiftly cut its losses, shutting down the entire Basis software platform in addition to recalling the fiery Peak and offering B1 refunds to minimize the anger of understandably disgruntled users.
Following several extra months of confusion regarding the semiconductor giant’s wearable plans and the occasional mechanical rejection of otherwise credible speculation, it seems the inevitable has happened. According to a “person familiar with the matter” talking to CNBC on condition of anonymity, the rumors were all true, and Intel laid off roughly 80 percent of the “Basis group” workforce way back in November 2016.
For what it’s worth, “many” of the employees in question were offered the chance to stay with the world’s largest chipmaker (still) in other departments, while the rest of the group was reportedly “eliminated” earlier this month.
It’s unclear if this means Intel’s related partnerships with Tag Heuer or New Balance are terminated or just in-house smartwatch-building efforts. But the “New Technologies” division is definitely moving on, looking at augmented reality as a prospective new development and innovation target. At the end of the day, perhaps that’s for the best.