Intel Just Gave up on Creating AR Glasses (But Apple Hasn’t)

Intel this week announced that it plans to shutter its New Devices Group, which had been working to develop and mass produce the chip-maker’s futuristic Vaunt augmented reality (AR) smart glasses, among other consumer hardware products, according to a report from The Information.

In lieu of proceeding with its goal of penetrating the wearables market, the Santa Clara-based chip maker will reportedly shift its focus entirely to furthering work on its current and future generation of CPUs and chips for PCs, Macs, servers, and associated mobile devices — including the firm’s upcoming Core i9 CPU.

“Intel is continuously working on new technologies and experiences,” Intel said in an emailed statement to CNBC News, noting that “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.”

Image via The Verge

Superlight, according to the report, is an internal codename for Intel’s previously announced Vaunt AR glasses, which the company flaunted as far back as last year, being the most promising new development undertaken by its New Devices Group.

A Win for Apple?

Of course, it’s dog-eat-dog among companies endeavoring to make a splash in the technology space, and while Intel has decided to scrap work on its own vision of AR-based eyeglasses, the move essentially opens the way for greater opportunity among companies like Apple — whose powerful AR-based eyewear, Apple Glass, has been in development for quite some time now. Click here to view stunning concept images of what Apple is working on.

There’s no telling when we might see Apple’s AR glasses hit the market, but CEO Tim Cook has remained adamant and steadfast the his company is working on big things in the burgeoning field of AR, and considering recent rumors, it’s possible we could see them emerge on the scene by late 2019 or early 2020.

R.I.P. New Devices Group

Intel announced the formation of its New Devices Group back in 2013, when current Chief Executive, Brian Krzanich, took control of the company from then-CEO, Paul Otellini.

In 2015, when Intel weathered a major reorganization, its New Devices Group was placed under the control of its New Technology Group — a separate segment of the chip-maker’s overall business model which, CNBC reports, was categorized under an ‘All Other’ segment of Intel’s business model, mainly focusing on the development of hardware devices including the AR glasses, a fitness smartwatch and other new technologies.

The New Devices Group was largely formed as the byproduct of Intel’s acquisitions, including its 2014 purchase of fitness watch company, Basis Science — and its 2015 acquisition of Recon Instruments — a firm specializing in the development of “wearable devices for athletes.”

As recently as last year things appeared to begin taking a turn for the worse, as Intel announced it would be cutting the workforce of its New Devices Group by as much as 80%.

And even though Krzanich declared — “Anything that produces data, anything that requires a lot of computing, the vision is, we’re there,” — in a memo to his employees last December, apparently he wasn’t referring to the New Devices Group.

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