Intel Shutters Wearables Division, Redirects Focus to Augmented Reality

Intel is exiting the wearable technology market—for good.

The writing has been on the wall for a while; Intel has been gradually shifting its focus away from wearables for years now, essentially ignoring one of its own product lines—the company hasn’t even mentioned wearables on an earnings call in three years.

Still, the sudden departure has impacted Intel’s workforce. According to a report from CNBC, Intel laid off upward of 80% of its Basis group late last year, offering the remaining 20% an opportunity to redirect their efforts to the company’s new target: augmented reality. This week, Intel put the final nail in the coffin, officially shuttering its wearables division.

The wearables market has seen a lot of this over the past year: in a bit of a surprise, Google Glass launched an Enterprise edition recently, but a combination of consolidation and shutdowns happened as companies came to the conclusion that smartwatches and fitness trackers cannot form a sizeable mainstream market. Even the launch of the Apple Watch, which seems to be doing the best of all, could not fully pull the product category out of its niche status.

Regardless, AR is an exciting new arena and Intel’s legacy of innovation suggests it has a solid shot at developing something impressive.