Intel preannounces next-gen Basis Peak smartwatch

basis peak Intel smartwatch
Credit: Mark Hachman

We now know the name of the next generation Basis smartwatch from Intel: the Basis Peak.

Intel wearables chief Mike Bell revealed a teaser image of the next-generation fitness band at the Intel Developer Forum on Tuesday, revealing also that it would ship in November.

At CES 2014, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich focused on the company’s push into wearables during his keynote address, showing off smart earbuds for runners that measure heart rate and display the data on a smartphone screen. Intel bought Basis in March for an undisclosed sum, bringing the technology under Mike Bell, a 16-year Apple executive and now the vice president and general manager of new devices at Intel.

Earlier on Tuesday, Krzanich had revealed that the Basis band would ship before the end of the year. It will be thinner, lighter, with a better battery life and better screen, he said. Neither Bell nor Krzanich offered any other details, including a price.

Although the smartwatch segment wasn't exactly facing a shortage of products, the announcement of the Apple Watch gives it a shot in the arm, according to Bell. "Apple is legitimizing it for everyone," he said.

Bell claimed that Basis was one of the earliest companies to track fitness, especially by monitoring heart rate. Since the fitness band monitors heart rate and motion over a period of several days, it can accurately predict restful sleep, as well as tossing and turning. The Basis Carbon Steel Edition is available now on the Basis website for $200, while the 2013 edition of the Basis B1 band remains available for $180.

Bell said he's been frustrated by fitness trackers that try to lock customers into their own little ecosystem of data, and Basis would make a concerted effort to break out of that mold. Intel plans to offer hardware makers so-called "iQ" development kits to allow them to quickly prototype hardware based on Intel's embedded Edison processor. He also announced that Intel would begin offering an API to take the data collected by Basis and make it available to third-party applications.

"We want to provide a common way...to use these devices and for developers to take these common building blocks and turn them into reality," Bell said.

One interesting feature about the Basis Peak is some rather aggressive styling versus the decidedly blah Basis B1. Matthew Woolsey, an executive vice president for luxe retailer Barneys New York, noted that wearables "aren't competing against other technology, they're competing against other things that people can wear."

Woolsey was also asked whether or not the $350 price tag of the Apple Watch would put it out of reach of most shoppers. "A $350 watch might actually be the cheapest thing in our store," Woolsey replied.

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