Intel to shutter New Devices Group, disband team behind AR smart glasses

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2018
After numerous failed attempts to break into the wearables market, Intel plans to pull the plug on its New Devices Group, a project in which the company invested hundreds of millions of dollars.

Intel


As reported by The Information on Wednesday, the New Devices Group, or NDG, will be shut down in the near future, with current employees to be relocated to other Intel divisions or laid off. The group was thought to include some 200 workers earlier this year, the report said.

Intel confirmed the closure to The Verge, saying in a statement that it plans to shelve NDG's last major project, a pair of smart glasses dubbed Vaunt.

An AR-infused headset masquerading as a pair of prescription eyeglasses, Vaunt used advanced optical technology to beam digital information directly onto a user's retina. Intel was reportedly working with hardware providers to secure a path to retail this year, but apparently failed to strike the deals necessary to bring the fledgling idea to market.

NDG started life in 2013 under the guidance of former Apple and Palm executive Mike Bell. At the time, Intel was looking for new growth markets to complement a commanding lead in the semiconductor business.

The wearables sector, namely smartwatches, was one of the first areas of interest for NDG. In 2014, Intel snapped up smartwatch maker Basis for a reported $100 million to $150 million in an effort to build out its health-related product offerings. That acquisition was followed by the purchase of Recon, manufacturer of heads-up display hardware for action sports enthusiasts.

Intel also struck deals to develop and embed burgeoning wearable technology into products marketed by major consumer brands including TAG Heuer, New Balance and Oakley. Specifically, Intel tech ended up in the TAG Heuer Connected watch and Oakley Radar Pace smart eyewear.

Signs of trouble surfaced last year when reports indicated NDG had plans to disband its wearables division as it focused on AR projects, presumably Vaunt. Intel refuted those claims, saying it had "several products" in the pipeline, though the devices never materialized.

According to The Information, NDG went through a number of reorganizations after Bell left Intel in 2015. The company last year began to whittle down NDG's workforce, which is said to have hit about 800 employees in 2016. Of those remaining workers, many were shifted to the smart glasses project, sources said.

Apple also bet big on wearables over the past five years, but unlike Intel has seen success with Apple Watch. Launched in 2015, Watch has quickly gained marketshare thanks to yearly hardware and software updates that deliver enticing new features, the most recent being cellular connectivity with Apple Watch Series 3. In March, market research firm IDC estimated Apple to have shipped some 8 million Apple Watch units over the December quarter, a figure surpassing that of industry rival Fitbit.

The Cupertino tech giant is also rumored to bring an AR headset to market. Reports late last year claim the company is working to develop the requisite technology by 2019 ahead of delivery in 2020.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    Apple is doomed. /s
    leavingthebiggwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 19
    analogjackanalogjack Posts: 1,063member
    Apple only barely gave the Apple Watch enough variety and that was for a product that is mostly hidden. To think that a set of smart glasses, (a far more personal item), could ever be anything more than a nerdy gadget is ludicrous.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 3 of 19
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,556member
    We can thank Intel for demonstrating the difference between Apple and everyone else: patience. 
    radarthekatwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Apple will have fantastic AR and a thriving app market using AR in 1B devices BEFORE launching their glasses, that's something Google, Samsung, Amazon or Intel won't be able to do.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 19
    Intel is shedding all the fat in preparation of being acquired by Apple!!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 19
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,423member
    It may have already happened, but Intel may already be on an irreversible path to irrelevance.

    Intel is like a ship with no captain at the helm.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 19
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,770member
    All this tells me is consumer AR glasses will probably never be a thing and Apple may never release any.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 8 of 19
    Intel had the best looking AR glasses, ones that looked like regular glasses! This is a shame that we'll not see a finished product.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    Who cares about AR glasses?  I want AR contact lenses.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,770member
    I’m surprised Intel isn’t making a smart speaker. That’s the current obsession of the tech world. Until they get board again and move on to something else.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 11 of 19
    jasenj1jasenj1 Posts: 910member
    I think this goes to Intel being perceived as a parts supplier rather than a consumer device producer. They do the research and proof of concept devices, then get some consumer brand to turn it into a product people will buy.
    mike1watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 19
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,721member
    I don’t think Intel has had their “only the paranoid survive” philosophy driving them forward for decades. They’ve wasted untold amounts of money on their side projects only to be shut down in failure time after time after time.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 4,453member
    This should no surprise to anyone who follows Intel, they have shut down or sold off more businesses than they had success at. Intel does this all the time, they jump into markets which they think they can some how make a difference, wind the business up with lots of money and resource only to turn around years later and shut it all down. I feel bad for any person who goes to work for Intel in any business other than their core processor business. 
    SpamSandwichdysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 19
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Intel does some cool research, they're not just a component supplier, I view this as just another research project that didn't pan out.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    anton zuykovanton zuykov Posts: 1,031member
    Apple only barely gave the Apple Watch enough variety and that was for a product that is mostly hidden. To think that a set of smart glasses, (a far more personal item), could ever be anything more than a nerdy gadget is ludicrous.
    It will be just as prevalent in 10-15 years just as the iPhone or Apple Watch now.. The tech isn't there... yet. When Apple gets a working model to the market, that convinces the rest that it is doable, that is when we will see the revolution( just like it was with the iPhone).

    SpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    flaneurflaneur Posts: 4,506member
    Apple only barely gave the Apple Watch enough variety and that was for a product that is mostly hidden. To think that a set of smart glasses, (a far more personal item), could ever be anything more than a nerdy gadget is ludicrous.
    It will be just as prevalent in 10-15 years just as the iPhone or Apple Watch now.. The tech isn't there... yet. When Apple gets a working model to the market, that convinces the rest that it is doable, that is when we will see the revolution( just like it was with the iPhone).

    Yes, but a few years sooner than 10-15, hopefully.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Even if you don't like the Watch as a product, it's fun to observe how much more they can squeeze in to each generation. It's a good barometer for the state of miniaturisation and power efficiency.
    dysamoriawatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 19
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,721member
    ascii said:
    Even if you don't like the Watch as a product, it's fun to observe how much more they can squeeze in to each generation. It's a good barometer for the state of miniaturisation and power efficiency.
    I think Apple may very well be looking into nanoscale engineering for future products. How else could devices which use almost no power, are very tiny and lightweight and still offer powerhouse computing capabilities going to be made otherwise?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 19
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,956member
    It's slightly amusing to watch pathological technology fads... but it's more annoying than entertaining. There's so much wasted time and material. I hope that, at the very least, some kind of engineering lessons are learned that can be useful to other (more practical) technological concepts... though I expect most things will be trapped in patents that get bought and sold by patent trolls, as the investment-free way for the wealthy to consolidate more wealth.
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