Most smartwatches treat women’s fashion as an afterthought, but it’s the focus of a new smart band from Intel and Opening Ceremony.
The device is called MICA (for My Intelligent Communications Accessory), and it’s meant to be equal parts fashion accessory and wearable tech. The thick band is wrapped in snake skin and studded with either pearls and lapis stones or tiger’s eye and obsidian. The sapphire glass display, which stays on the inside of the wrist, is surrounded by 18-karat gold plating.
While the design comes from fashion shop Opening Ceremony, Intel handled the all the computing. MICA is basically a device for showing phone calls, text messages, and e-mails, though it works independently of a smartphone with two-years of AT&T service built in.
Why this matters: The typical smartwatch focuses more on features than fashion, but Intel and Opening Ceremony are approaching it from the other direction. MICA can’t do a whole lot, and the screen is largely hidden underneath the wrist, making the cuff’s design the true centerpiece. Even if Intel doesn’t sell a whole lot of these, it’s an interesting experiment in reversing the priorities of a wearable device.
MICA’s mini feature set
MICA appears to run a custom operating system that shows phone calls, text messages, and starred Gmail contacts. There’s no voice dictation, but users can set up some canned text responses for messages. Users can also have MICA vibrate for “Priority Notifications” from a list if VIP contacts. Event notifications come from Google Calendar and Facebook, and a TomTom-powered service will tell users when it’s time to leave for the next appointment.
Aside from notifications, MICA’s only proactive feature is the ability to locate nearby restaurants and shops with a Yelp search. You won’t find any of the navigation, fitness tracking, or web search features of other smartwatches, and there’s no app store for expanding MICA’s capabilities.
MICA does have GPS on board, so users can remotely locate the device if it’s lost or stolen. The device should get about two days of battery life, and uses a Micro-USB connection to recharge.
MICA will go on sale early next month for $495 at Barney’s New York and Opening Ceremony New York and Los Angeles, and through the two retailers’ online stores. Two years of AT&T service are built into the cost, but Intel isn’t saying how much the service will cost after that.
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Jared Newman has been helping folks make sense of technology for over a decade, writing for PCWorld, TechHive, and elsewhere. He also publishes two newsletters, Advisorator for straightforward tech advice and Cord Cutter Weekly for saving money on TV service.