Intel on Monday unveiled several products at CES 2014, including a smartwatch, smart earbuds, smart headset and last but not least, a smart wireless charging bowl. Granted, that last one is a little weird, but it’s actually one of the more interesting new devices from the chipmaker.
First, the wearables: like the other three products announced today, Intel’s smartwatch is a reference design, but if current smartwatch offerings like Qualcomm’s Toq or the Pebble haven’t swayed you, chances are that Intel’s take won’t leave you blown away either when it begins shipping later this year. The main point of differentiation is that the Intel smartwatch doesn’t require a paired phone to perform the same limited array of functions as most of the other alternatives already on the market. It lets you browse the web and offers location-based notifications, but it’s certainly no less an eyesore than the Galaxy Gear.
"Wearables are not everywhere today because they aren't yet solving real problems and they aren't yet integrated with our lifestyles," said Intel CEO Brian Krazanich Krzanich in a press statement. "We're focused on addressing this engineering innovation challenge. Our goal is, if something computes and connects, it does it best with Intel inside."
Intel’s smart earbuds are the company’s answer to FitBit. The basic premise is they measure your heart rate and deliver biometric information directly to your ears. Like the smartwatch, they work mostly independent of a tablet or smartphone, except that you have to plug them into one to power them. We’re not really sure what to make of this yet.
The company’s smart headset offers several interesting features, most notably, an always-on function that lets you access a Siri-like personal assistant without needing to push a trigger button. Unfortunately, the reference design is remarkably similar to Jabra’s Bluetooth earpieces from a half-decade ago, so hopefully the company will address that before taking it to market.
Finally, the wireless charging bowl: if you’re familiar with the Nexus Wireless Charger, Intel’s smart bowl works on the same principal. Simply drop your device or devices into the 10-inch wide bowl and they’ll begin charging. While it’s not a new idea, Intel’s approach is both elegant and efficient.