Intel closes its New Devices Group, which built the Vaunt smart glasses
The group expanded in part through acquisitions like the fitness tracker company Basis after CEO Brian Krzanich formed it in 2013
By Jordan Novet
Intel confirmed it has chosen to close its New Devices Group, which has worked on augmented reality glasses and other consumer products.
With the move to leave the wearables market, Intel will remain focused on delivering chips for PCs, servers and other hardware, while also looking at emerging technologies.
The Information first reported the plans on Wednesday, noting they could result in layoffs and that the group had 200 employees earlier this year.
“Intel is continuously working on new technologies and experiences,” an Intel spokesperson told CNBC in an email. “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 “Superlight” project is an internal code name for Vaunt, the augmented-reality glasses Intel’s New Devices Group unveiled earlier this year. The product had certain shortcomings, as CNBC reported.
Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced the formation of the group in a memo in 2013, soon after taking over from Paul Otellini. After a reorganisation in 2015, the New Devices Group came under the New Technology Group, which itself resides under the All Other business segment on Intel’s earnings statements.
Intel expanded the group partly through acquisitions. In 2014 it bought fitness watch company Basis Science, and in 2015 it bought Recon Instruments, which specialised in wearable devices for athletes.
Last year Intel cut 80 per cent of the employees working on Basis, CNBC’s Christina Farr reported.
Krzanich said that Intel would take more risks in a memo he sent to all employees in December, but the memo did not refer to the New Devices Group. “Anything that produces data, anything that requires a lot of computing, the vision is, we’re there,” he wrote.