In accordance with the reports received on Wednesday, the New Devices Group, or NDG, in the near future, would be shut down, with the current employees to be relocated to the other Intel divisions or laid off. The report said that the group was thought to involve some nearly 200 workers earlier in the current year. Intel confirmed the closure by saying in a statement that it has got plans to shelve the last major project of NDG, 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 data directly onto the retina of the users. Reportedly, Intel was working with the hardware providers to secure a path to the retail in the current year but apparently failed to strike the deals required to get the fledgling idea to the market.
NDG started life in the year 2013 under the guidance of Mike Bell, a former Apple, and Palm executive. At the time, Intel was seeking for new growth markets in order to complement a commanding lead in the semiconductor business.
The wearable sector, namely the smartwatches, was one of the first areas of interest for the NDG. In the year 2014, Intel snapped up the smartwatch maker Basis for a reported 100 million dollars to 150 million dollars in an effort to build out its health-related product offerings. That acquisition was then followed by the purchase of Recon, the manufacturer of the heads-up display hardware for the action sports enthusiasts.
Intel even struck deals to embed and develop the burgeoning wearable technology into the products marketed by the major consumer brands including New Balance, TAG Heuer, and Oakley. Specifically, Intel technology ended up in the TAG Heuer Connected watch and the Oakley Radar Pace smart eyewear.
Signs of problems came up in last year when the reports indicated NDG had plans to disband its wearables division as it aimed at AR projects, presumably Vaunt. Intel refuted those claims by saying that it had many products in the pipeline, although the devices never materialized.
In accordance with the reports, NDG went through several reorganizations after Bell left Intel in the year 2015. Last year, the company started to whittle down NDG’s workforce that is said to have hit around 800 employees in the year 2016. As said by the sources, of those remaining workers, several were shifted to the smart glasses project.
Apple even bets big on the wearables over the past five years, but unlike Intel has tasted success with the Apple Watch. Launched in the year 2015, Watch has speedily gained the market share, thanks to the yearly software and hardware updates that deliver the enticing new features, the most recent being the cellular connectivity with the Apple Watch Series 3. In the month of March, the market research firm IDC estimated Apple to have shipped some 8 million units of Apple Watch over the December quarter, a figure, which surpasses that of the industry rival Fitbit.
The Cupertino technology monster is even rumored to get an AR headset to the market. The reports of late last year claim that the company is working to build the requisite technology by the year 2019 ahead of delivery in the year 2020.