Meet MICA: Intel's Smart (Looking) Watch
The epitome of the old-school, conservative Silicon Valley establishment, Intel Corp., threw a screwball into the wearable tech game on November 17. While everyone else is rolling out products for geeks, jocks, and hypochondriacs, the Santa Clara-based chipmaker is going after fashion-conscious women. And they even beat Apple to the punch with MICA. Here's the scoop on Intel's high-tech jewelry for the wrist...
High Tech, Meet High Fashion
MICA (pronounced “Meeka" and short for "My Intelligent Communication Accessory") is jewelry for the wrist designed by New York fashion house Opening Ceremony with “smarts” by Intel inside. It’s available exclusively from Intel, Opening Ceremony, and Barney’s of New York for a mere $495.
MICA is in a category all by itself, and that's not just because they beat the Apple Watch to market, in time for holiday shopping. Most “wrist tech” is rather rubbery and lumpish, reminiscent of $20 1970s calculator watches with grey LCD screens, 3D pushbuttons that actually move, and plastic wristbands. If you've seen a Fitbit, the Samsung Gear or a Microsoft Band, you know what I mean.
MICA is stylishly crafted of water snake skin, inset with ornamental (please don’t call them “semi-precious” because they’re not) stones such as Tiger Eye Quartz, Lapis Lazuli, and Obsidian, and unspecified base metal with an 18 kt gold coating. It is a “statement piece,” as certain people call an attention-grabbing big piece of jewelry.
“Yeah, absolutely, this is the sole purpose of this, which is aesthetics,” says Intel VP and General Manager of Business Development and Strategy, New Devices Group of Intel, Ayse Ildeniz, who was obviously named at birth to usher in the era of what she calls “wantable tech.”
“A woman who puts something on herself… wants to look good and be proud of how she looks. So the intent is you wear (MICA) every day; you look good but it’s also technologically functioning,” she explains in a USA Today video interview that surely has geek girls fuming.
Under the Hood
The tech in MICA is functioning, barely. Ladies who lunch (“everyday women,” Ildeniz calls them) can receive text messages, Facebook notifications, and can sync with your Google and/or Facebook calendars. (MICA apparently disdains Twitter.) It will also display alerts from one or two GMail accounts.
Not complete emails, mind you; “everyday women” are much too busy lunching for such tedious interruptions. They use their MICA’s sapphire glass touchscreen only to send “quick replies” to their “curated contacts” who are labeled “important” in GMail. When they’re really busy, as in “shopping,” additional filters further limit the number of contacts who can reach them.
MICA displays Google Calendar appointments and Facebook event notifications, and allows users to accept or reject invitations with a tap on their wrists. A “personal concierge” based on TomTom GPS technology keeps track of the lady’s location and the current traffic conditions between her and her next appointment. MICA discreetly vibrates and displays a “time to go to…” message at the ideal departure moment.
MICA’s configuration and security settings can be accessed remotely via a Web portal built into the bracelet. The device can be locked and located remotely, and battery life is said to be two days. MICA wearers will be able to charge the device with via USB or wireless charging.
Two years of AT&T data service paid by Intel are included with each MICA. Thereafter, assuming MICA hasn’t gone out of fashion, data service is at the owner’s expense.
But let’s get serious for a moment. (I never thought I’d have to say that to Intel!) MICA has one big potential advantage over its more pedestrian counterparts: a built-in 3G cellular transmitter! It isn’t dependent upon a smartphone for connectivity; (In fact, MICA won’t even talk to your phone to let you know who is calling.) With a little more circuitry and software, MICA could be a fully functional, independent communication device. But will it ever be? “Intel will let the market tell us what it wants,” says Ildeniz.
What do you think about the MICA? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 28 Nov 2014
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Meet MICA: Intel's Smart (Looking) Watch (Posted: 28 Nov 2014)
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