Intel Invests $24.8M in Vuzix to Help ‘Accelerate’ Fashionable Wearables


Intel’s push into wearables continues. The chipmaker has officially invested $24.8 million into Vuzix, purchasing enough common shares to represent 30 percent or so of Vuzix’s outstanding stock.

“Intel’s investment will be used for general working capital to accelerate the introduction of Vuzix next generation fashion-based wearable display products into the consumer market,” reads a press release from Vuzix.

Intel’s move is yet another high-profile entry point for the company into the not-yet-crowded world of computerized headwear and other wearables. As the Wall Street Journal reported last November, Intel chips will allegedly power the next iteration of Google Glass whenever it’s released, kicking Texas Instruments to the curb (whose chips can be found in the first iteration of Google Glass). While we don’t yet know what specific chip Intel plans to slap into Glass II, or whatever it’ll be called, Intel has been crafting up all sorts of tiny components lately: the Quark processor, the tiny Edison system-on-a-chip circuit board, and a SoFIA chip that combines a CPU with a 3G modem (and, soon, LTE 4G connectivity).

Intel also recently teamed up with fashion brand Opening Ceremony to create a wearable, which the two showed off this past November. One part stylish bracelet, one part smart device, the Mica combines a screen (found on the inside of one’s wrist) with basic, smartwatch-like functionality: notifications, event reminders, Google Calendar items, et cetera. A built-in GPS helps tailor notifications to your location (and assists you with your Yelp searches), and an independent cellular radio—with service provided by AT&T—frees the device from your smartphone, for better or worse.

And that’s not Intel’s only collaboration around wearables as of late. Italian eyewear manufacturer Luxottica Group and Intel announced in December of last year that they were going to partner up to develop stylish, smart eyewear—for premium, luxury, and sports glasses.

We’ll be curious to see what Intel’s investment means for the future of Vuzix’s smart glasses. Intel seems quite keen on being involved in wearables—more importantly, wearables that are more interesting, fashionable, or practical than the typical concept of “strapping a small camera to a simple pair of eyeglasses and calling it a day.” Whether Intel’s involvement ultimately takes Vuzix more into wearables for the workplace, fashion, or some other route, we’ll just have to wait and see.