Early this morning, Tag Heuer and Intel announced a new smartwatch ahead of next week’s major watch and jewelry show, Baselworld. The sequel to last year’s $1500 Tag Heuer Connected, the Connected Modular 45 is another beast of a smartwatch, with a huge 45mm face and a lot of Intel inside. And according to the Verge, even more Intel is coming to the watch later this year—in the form of a new, genderless artificially intelligent assistant.
The Connected Modular 45 will already have Google’s AI built-in, thanks to running Android Wear 2.0, but it’s going to be powered by an Intel Atom Z34XX processor. According to Jerry Bautista, vice president of Intel’s New Technology Group, that means the Connected Modular 45 should be able to run Intel’s future’ virtual assistant.
Bautista didn’t give the Verge many details on the AI, and when reached by email, Intel declined to provide Gizmodo with any further information. We do know, at least, that it will have contextual responses like Siri and Google’s AI, and it will supposedly be able to extrapolate and understand data provided by the smartwatch.
The AI’s personal details—which is to say, its lack of name or gender—are especially interesting, however. Apple, Amazon, and other companies with digital AIs have faced some criticism for their decision to “feminize” their digital assistants. Even Google, who notably has given no human-like name to Google Assistant, still has the AI default to a feminine sounding voice. While studies show women and many men prefer the sound of a feminine voice when uttered by a robot it still remains puzzling, as scientists agree women’s voices are no easier to understand than men’s.
Intel’s decision to eschew gender in the pursuit of an AI almost feels like a radical departure as a consequence, and in our society, where gender is normally expressed in extremely binary ways, it will be curious to see how Intel expresses its AI’s agender nature. What does an agender robot even sound like? Wall-E? Eve? Bender Bending Rodríguez? We won’t know until the Tag Heuer Connected Modular 45, which ships later this year, receives an update to include the new AI.