Chipmaker Intel is making a new bet on a different kind of mobile product. Intel announced Tuesday it has acquired Basis Science, which has a line of health-oriented wearable trackers.
Terms of the deal were not made public, although there are reports that the price was as much as $150 million. Since last fall, Intel has been an investor in Basis and has been represented on the board.
The Basis band is an advanced tracking wristband/watch for monitoring such metrics as heart rate. The chipmaker's strategy is to create reference devices, systems-on-chips and other platforms for wearables.
In a posting Wednesday on the Basis corporate blog, the company said that its band includes "the most sensors of any health tracker on the market in a wearable form today." Basis noted that it and Intel share a mission to "create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person."
As Intel tries to gain a bigger foothold in smartphones and tablets, the company appears determined not to find itself late to the game of wearables. Its keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in January focused heavily on wearables. The company also showed reference designs for a wide range of gadgets and wearables, many of which are based on a small, low-powered, inexpensive chip called Quark.
The reference devices included an always-listening earpiece, a standalone smartwatch with built-in cellular connectivity, and a Pentium-class PC in the form of a SD card.
No Intel Left Behind
Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, said that the Basis announcement "dovetails with the announcements made at the CES show about wearables."
He added that, for the wearables market, "Intel doesn’t intend to be left behind," so it is moving forward on a number of fronts. King said the idea is that Intel can say to wearables companies, "'We have the reference platform and other related technology to power the next generation of wearables.'" This could also become an OEM strategy, which, as King points out, Intel already employs for servers and other products.
Intel also announced this week that it is working with chipmaker Altera Corp. to create customized devices from processors, memory and programmable chips in an attempt to lower manufacturing costs. The idea behind such "multi-die" packaging is to connect separately made components as one device. Mixing and matching could lead to smaller, more energy-efficient devices.