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Intel advances wearable focus with Basis purchase

Posted: 27 Mar 2014  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Intel  Basis Science  wearable 

Intel establishes its entry into wearable devices with the completion of its smartwatch start-up, Basis Science, acquisition. The financial terms of the deal were not disclose although a TechCrunch report said that the chipmaker paid between $100 million and $150 million.

Basis Science is the creator of the Basis band, a health tracker and online personal dashboard that measures sleep cycles and activity. The Basis Sleep Tracker tracks and analyses REM, light, and toss-and-turn sleep patterns using four different sensors: a three-axis accelerometer to measure body activity and sleep quality, a perspiration monitor, a skin temperature sensor, and a heart rate monitor for pattern accuracy.

Basis health tracker

"Everyone's rushing to build a smartwatch-looking thing that's general purpose. What will gain more traction is a vertical with more targeted functionality, such as a health tracker," Mike Bell, Intel vice president and general manager of the company's new devices group, told us. This somehow appears to be true, with Samsung, and, recently, Apple jumping on the healthcare bandwagon.

The key to Basis's success and appeal to Intel is end-user accessibility and interactivity. The Basis Tracker analyses sensor data and provides suggestions to users, making it a "sticky" device that "adds an element of fun to the process instead of just posing the data," Bell said. Successful wearables need to provide a level of support and coaching along with tracking technology.

With the purchase, Intel aims to accelerate its focus and capabilities in the wearable market. It has repeatedly emphasized the importance of wearables and the Internet of Things as future market drivers. Intel hopes Edison, a 22mm Quark-based computer housed in a SD card form factor, will power the next generation of smart, wearable devices.

"Our goal is to really showcase those technologies, so other people building those devices will want to partner with us," Bell said. "I believe the Basis technology will become standard in all wearables and really positions us to have a whole series of devices."

In a blog post, Basis said the companies share a common purpose and trajectory. "We felt like the momentum Basis had generated on its own would only be greater with the technical, manufacturing, global reach and support resources Intel has to offer. They've been strong supporters of our vision and of our team, investing in Basis and being on our board since October 2013."

The Basis band will continue to be sold through its current retail channels, and the company's employees will continue to handle customer support, software updates, and other aspects of the product. Its privacy policy will remain the same, and Basis will not eliminate its employees.

"Keeping our existing team intact ensures we can remain focused on our mission of improving the health and well-being of people," said Jef Holove, former Basis Science CEO and now a general manager in Intel's new devices group.

Bell said he expects the Basis team to provide feedback on Intel's wearable roadmap, which includes the creation of reference devices, SoCs, and other technology platforms. The Basis tracker would "provide a fantastic platform to try out our own chipsets before we make them widely available."

- Jessica Lipsky
  EE Times





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