We’ll make fashion smart, says Intel’s head of new devices (video)

6 Nov 2014

Mike Bell, Intel's vice-president and general manager of new devices

Intel is working with fashion brands such as Fossil and Opening Ceremony to put digital technology into everyday fashion items, the company’s vice-president and general manager of new devices Mike Bell said.

Earlier this year at CES Intel’s chief executive Brian Krzanich revealed alliances with luxury retailers like Barneys and the Fashion Designers of America and revealed a new Quark technology called Edison, a 22nm dual core PC the size of an SD card.

Bell, who is spearheading Intel’s wearable tech strategy, said the chip giant is going about its mission in a very considered way.

“While Iron Man suits would be cool too, the best tech is often invisible. People don’t necessarily want something on their body that screams ‘I’m a geek’, it has to be personal and a reflection of how they want to be seen.

“Whatever we do it needs to be as fashionable as it is technologically-enabled.

“Our best strategy is to partner with people who are the best at what they do in this field. They know fashion, they know their customers and they know what looks good and we know how to make it smart.”

In recent weeks some of the earliest products to emerge from the partnership with Opening Ceremony, a New York design company, debuted at Fashion Week. “It’s kind of wild being at runway shows, I never thought that as an engineer I would ever do that!”

One of the devices they created was a jeweled snakeskin bracelet that on the surface looks like jewelry but contains a 3G radio to let its wearer receive messages.

Another device is a pair of earphones from SMS Audio that look like an ordinary pair of sports earphones but contain a sensor that measures your heartrate. “We figured out how to power this by taking the power from the jack. It’s an example of how you can make things smart, approachable and seamless.”

The next big thing

Bell said that Intel is also keen to work with entrepreneurs on creating the hardware and wearable devices of the future. “The Edison board is the size of a postage stamp and the idea is to get it to the entrepreneurs, let them go wild with it and figure out things that we could never imagine.

“The cool thing is by having a board with software they are 80pc on the way to market, they only have to add their secret sauce on top.”

Bell believes the opportunities in new devices and wearables will most likely come from people in the maker’s space.

“We really want to play in this market. The next big thing, rather than coming from a garage in Silicon Valley may very well come from the maker community doing work in a kitchen or basement.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years