You’ve seen plenty of smartphones, but Intel and Open Ceremony are showing off a wearable technology that aims squarely at the luxury market. Dubbed MICA, which stands for My Intelligent Communication Accessory, the bracelet targets “highly-connected” women who want fast access to text messages, Yelp, Gmail notifications, Facebook events and Google Calendar from their wrists.
Intel is betting women with an "appreciation for fashion" will appreciate MICA’s touchscreen sapphire display that makes it easier to view content than the typical smartphone. The device offers vibration-based alerts, a VIP contact list, and the ability to send customizable quick replies.
This one is all about socially-connected women on the go who don’t want to fumble through their bags looking for their phones or interrupt meetings or events by overtly texting. On the downside though, it may be too clunky for the types of women who are willing and able to afford the $500 price tag.
Is It Wantable?
Ayse Ildeniz, Intel's VP and general manager for business development and strategy in the New Devices Group, doesn’t think so. She calls MICA “category-defining smart jewelry," explaining that Intel worked to blend aesthetics with functionality. The underlying philosophy she said is that, “technology should enhance jewelry in order to make wearable technology truly 'wantable,' in addition to seamless and productive."
Design-wise, Intel's MICA is much more elegant than an Apple Watch. It offers an 18 karat gold coating with a curved sapphire glass touch screen display. One style features black water snake skin, pearls from China and lapis stones from Madagascar. Another style features white water snake skin, tiger's eye from South Africa and obsidian from Russia.
"Mobile technology really guides everything we do,” said Daniella Vitale, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Executive Vice President at Barneys New York. “The issue for many consumers on wearable technology lies in the fact that the devices typically are not attractive and are oftentimes cumbersome.”
A Glimpse into the Future
Beyond messaging, MICA displays Google Calendar and Facebook event notifications and lets users accept or reject appointments. A “personal concierge” feature offers what Intel calls intelligent reminders and “Time to Go,” a feature powered by TomTom and Intel, adjusts based on location to consider the time it will take you to reach your next appointment.
From a security perspective, the wearable offers remote access and locking, the ability to locate the device, and configuration capabilities through a Web-based portal. And on the connectivity front, MICA includes a two-year wireless plan with AT&T as part of the purchase price. MICA offers up to two days of battery life and micro-USB charging.
We caught up with Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, to get his thoughts on the latest wearable. He told us the device has its own SIM card, which makes it one of the first standalone wearables to hit the market.
“It’s pretty hefty, which would indicate that it has a bigger battery. It’s rather light on what it can do but we have to crawl before we can run,” Entner said. “This is a device for technophiles -- affluent technophiles who want to be at the forefront of technology.”
Entner looks at MICA this way: It’s on the leading edge and gives customers a glimpse of what is possible in the future once technology allows for more capabilities, more power and a lower price.
“This is big, clunky and expensive -- and that’s fine,” Entner said. “It’s like when the first plasma or LCD screens appeared. Now we are at 4k, the prices are dropping relatively quickly and the quality is becoming better and better.”