Intel has officially shut down its New Devices Group, launched in 2013, the company confirmed last week. The group was responsible for development of various wearable electronics, such as smartwatches, fitness monitors, smart glasses and more. Along with the closing down of the group, Intel has also ceased the development of its Vaunt smart glasses.
Created in 2013 by then-incoming CEO Brian Krzanich, the New Devices Group (NDG) was Intel's venture to ensure that its chips would be inside millions of emerging wearable devices. The wearables market has grown several folds since then, but wearables made by Intel have never been among the market's bestsellers. Thus, the chip giant is pulling the plug.
In the last five years, Intel made two significant acquisitions to bring necessary expertise to NDG. First, the company took over a fitness watchmaker, Basis in 2014. Intel then followed it with the acquisition of Recon, a wearable heads-up display maker in 2015. The company, however, repeatedly failed in its attempts to win ground in the wearable and embedded spaces. And the company itself is to blame for it. When problems with one of their Basis smart watches showed up on a limited number of devices, Intel preferred to stop their sales and refund their costs to the customers rather than fix the problems and replace faulty units.
The latest in a string of missteps made by the company was a Google Glass-like smart glasses named Vaunt (or Superlight). The product had reached prototype stage, taking the best aspects of Google Glass. But with smartglasses as a whole proving a hard sell, Intel has officially pulled the plug.
In a statement confirming the closure of the New Devices Group and the cancellation of the Vaunt (or Superlight) project, Intel has stressed on taking a disciplined approach as it continues to keep inventing and exploring new technologies.
"Intel is continuously working on new technologies and experiences. Not all of these develop into a product we choose to take to market. The Superlight project is a great example where Intel developed truly differentiated, consumer augmented reality glasses. We are going to take a disciplined approach as we keep inventing and exploring new technologies, which will sometimes require tough choices when market dynamics don’t support further investment," the statement read.
Since Intel’s New Technology Group, formed in 2015, remains intact, all of Its ongoing research projects still remain in place. More importantly, Intel hasn't completely switched off its focus from wearables. Its other divisions continue to work on their products for wearables and ultra-low-power devices. Only the NDG has been shut and with it, the products developed and designed by the group.