Wearables are out and augmented reality is in over at Intel. CNBC is reporting that Intel completely shuttered its wearables division just two weeks ago, and the New Technologies group that housed the division is now focused on augmented reality. From one fad to another, Intel is trying to chase the next big thing.
AR has quickly supplanted VR and wearables as the super-cool tech everyone needs to invest in. Google’s been pursuing it via Project Tango and is releasing a new AR-capable phone with Asus, the Asus Zenfone AR, later this year. And Apple announced its own focus on AR at WWDC in June.
Intel was actually one of the earliest investors in augmented reality tech with its spatially aware RealSense 3D camera in 2014. So the New Technologies Group’s new focus on AR is almost a return to form for the company.
The bigger news is Intel’s departure from the wearable space—an area that’s rapidly becoming a technological ghostland.
The writing has been on the wall for wearables at Intel since November of last year. That’s when, according to TechCrunch, Intel laid off a huge portion of its wearables team.
At the time Intel denied it was breaking up with wearables. “Intel is in no way stepping back from the wearables business. In fact, we have several products in the works that we are very excited about,” it said in a statement to TechCrunch.
Intel launched a few higher profile wearables this year. In February the company launched the New Balance IQ smartwatch, and in March it launched a $1550 Connected Modular 45 smartwatch in collaboration with Tag Heuer that was going to have it’s own built-in AI. Besides smartwatches, Intel was also embracing audio wearables, like these Oakley Radar Pace sunglasses with attached earbuds and an on-device audio coach, or these heart-rate monitoring headphones from SMS Audio.
Intel is still advertising its wearable chipset on its website—the tech at the heart of its wearable push. However, according to CNBC that is probably going to be the last wearable-related thing we see from Intel for a while.
At least until AR headsets take off.