The first model might not even be on sale, but the next version of Google Glass will haveIntel inside. That’s according to the WSJ, who’s heard from people familiar with the matter that it will apparently form yet another part of the chipmakers continued push into wearables — in case you hadn’t heard about that before. Intel didn’t quite manage to tap into the smartphone boom, with chips licensed from its rival, ARM, powering the majority of smartphones. It took until last year for Intel to finally offer a smartphone processor that could connect to 4G LTE networks. Further still, Intel aims to promoteGlass in a work capacity, pitching to hospitals and manufacturing businesses. However, but more importantly than the deal-making itself, we’re still waiting to hear how Glass itself will benefit from the new hardware. Neither Intel or Google have responded to the report.
Intel Corp. will supply the electronic brains for a new version of Google Inc. ’s Glass device expected next year, people familiar with the matter said, part of a push by the semiconductor giant into wearable technology.
An Intel chip will replace a processor from Texas Instruments Inc. included in the first version of Glass, the people said.
Intel plans to promote Glass to companies such as hospital networks and manufacturers, while developing new workplace uses for the device, according to one of the people.
Google launched the Internet-connected eyewear in 2012 as a consumer gadget, but it was criticized by privacy advocates and widely regarded as nerdy. But Glass shows early signs of catching on as a workplace-computing device.
Through a program it calls Glass at Work, Google is working with software developers including Augmedix Inc. and APX Labs LLC to encourage use of Glass in industries such as health care, construction and manufacturing where employees work with their hands but need information.
Kevin Spain, general partner of venture-capital firm Emergence Capital Partners, called Intel’s involvement “a positive signal, not just about Glass, but about the wearable category generally.” Emergence is an investor in Augmedix, which sells software that helps hospitals and doctors use Glass to automatically record electronic health data.
Representatives of Google, Intel and Texas Instruments declined to comment.
While Google partners are promoting workplace uses of Glass, the Internet giant still views it primarily as a consumer device. More than 300 Google employees work on Glass, and fewer than 5% focus on Glass at Work, according to a person familiar with the business. Intel’s involvement won’t change this focus, the person said.
“We expect Glass to evolve and be more useful for companies, but it will still be a crossover device for consumers,” said Eric Johnsen, vice president of business development at APX Labs, which makes Glass software used by manufacturing, oilfield-services and logistics companies.
Mr. Johnsen, who started the Glass at Work program at Google before joining APX, said the next version of the device will likely have longer battery life, which would appeal to both consumers and companies. The battery in the first version of Glass lasts for a day at most—and just a few hours if features like video recording are used a lot.
Intel chips run most personal computers and servers used in data centers. But the company was late to the mobile market, as smartphones and tablet makers sidestepped its x86 chips in favor of rival products based on technology licensed by ARM Holding PLC. Brian Krzanich, who became Intel’s chief executive in May 2013, is determined to avoid the same fate in wearable technology.
Since Mr. Krzanich’s appointment, Intel has targeted wearables with products that include an ultra-small x86 processor called Quark, a tiny circuit board for wearable devices called Edison and a chip called SoFIA that combines a processor with cellular communications.
Leading the push in wearables is Mike Bell, a veteran of Palm Inc. and Apple Inc. who heads Intel’s new devices group. His team has been active, and flexible, in cutting deals to get new products to market.
Earlier this month, Intel disclosed details of a computerized bracelet called MICA it developed with the fashion label Opening Ceremony, which uses an Intel processor based on ARM rather than x86 technology.
It isn’t clear what Intel chip Google will use in the new version of Glass. But there will be an emphasis on power conservation. “For wearables like Glass, the processor has to be lower power because the batteries have to be so small,” said Al Cowsky, an analyst at TechInsights’ Teardown.com, which examined the guts of the first version of Glass earlier this year.
Google and Intel have been working together in other areas. Intel chips power Google servers, and the companies are working to advance Google’s Android and Chrome operating systems. Intel’s Xeon chips have been used in Google’s self-driving cars, and the company’s Atom chips are used in the Nexus Player, a new Google streaming-media device.