Intel Capital, the chip giant's investment arm, has once again telegraphed a growing field of interest for the company by investing in a wearable computing specialist.
Intel has long concentrated on high-power, high-performance parts for desktop, laptop and server systems, but in recent years has started to view the low-power and embedded markets with envy. Its early attempts, including an Atom processor designed for consumer electronics devices like set-top boxes, failed to make much of an impact in a market dominated by its Cambridge-based rival ARM, but in its most recent Intel Developer Forum event the company unveiled a new low-power x86-compatible chip family dubbed the Intel Quark with which it hopes to turn heads.
Now, the company has confirmed an investment in Recon Instruments, a Canadian company which produces a wearable computing system with head-up display options for sporting types. Its products include the Snow
family of display systems for alpine goggles and more recently the Jet
wearable computer - which owes something of a debt of gratitude to Google's Glass device.
Intel's interest in the company comes as it enjoys considerable interest in the Jet platform, which at present is based around a wearable computer powered by a 1GHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor with 1GB of DDR SDRAM memory and 8GB of flash storage. With Intel pledging money into the project, however, that is likely to change: future versions are almost certain to be based around Intel parts, which could spell a painful transition period for developers who have been working on software for the ARM-based model.
'Wearable computing is a major, accelerating phenomenon that redefines how we use and interact with information,
' claimed Mike Bell, vice president of Intel's New Devices group, at the deal's signing. 'In Recon Instruments, we see compelling technology and a solid strategy to capitalise on the wearable revolution. This is an area of significant focus for Intel Capital, and our investment in Recon Instruments is a key part of our approach to innovation in this emerging space.
Neither company has publicised the value or terms of the investment deal.