Author, Speaker, and Consultant on Hyperinnovation, Future Studies, GigaMarket$, The New Industrial Revolution, and Advanced Robotics and (iRev) Intelligence Revolution.
Monday, 30 September 2013
Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital, last week made a “significant” investment in Recon Instruments, a Canadian startup, which makes heads-up displays (HUD). This investment is now seen as a potential Intel entrance into the wearable computing market, an alleged revolution in computing, which some say could earn tech firms billions of dollars.
Recon has been developing its wearable offerings for the past five years, creating HUDs for the most active of users. At present the company offers an unobtrusive display which can be used with third-party snow goggles for $199. In March 2014, however, the company plans to release Jet, a pair of glasses meant to be used by bikers, runners and even woodsman, which looks to outperform Google’s Glass for nearly half the price. In a press release, Recon said it has already sold 50,000 HUDs before briefly mentioning a partnership with Apple.
“Wearable computing is a major, accelerating phenomenon that re-defines how we use and interact with information,” said Mike Bell, the vice president and general manager of the new devices group at Intel, in a press statement. “In Recon Instruments, we see compelling technology and a solid strategy to capitalize on the wearable revolution. This is an area of significant focus for Intel Capital, and our investment in Recon Instruments is a key part of our approach to innovation in this emerging space.”
Though neither company has given any specific information about how much money has been invested, Recon says it’ll use the money to support “product development, market and global sales expansion.” The company also says they plan to benefit from Intel’s experience in “manufacturing, operations and technology,” further hinting towards a possible piece of wearable tech from Big Blue.
It’s interesting Intel chose only to invest rather than buy the company outright. With this investment Intel is essentially ensuring it will be able to buy the components it wants when the time comes. This also means companies such as Apple can also use these components in any potential device as well. Though he doesn’t mention any specifics, Recon CEO Dan Eisenhardt claims his company is already working with Apple.
“We have spent the last five years leading the Heads-Up Display category in the consumer space. In fact, Recon has shipped more than 50,000 Heads-up Displays worldwide, including a very successful campaign in Apple retail stores,” said Eisenhardt.
Like Intel and even Microsoft, Apple has only been rumored to enter the wearable market. While most rumors suggest Apple will be building an iWatch, CEO Tim Cook has briefly discussed an interest in glasses as well. During the All Things D conference in May, Cook called Google Glass “difficult” before saying, “we have more game changers in us.”
Recon’s Jet glasses are available now for pre-order for $599, considerably less than Google’s $1,500 Glass. Jet weighs only 28 grams (less than an ounce) spread out evenly across the device and packs in a dual-core 1GHz processor, Wi-Fi antennas, Bluetooth, GPS, HD cameras and the usual assortment of sensors.
Though immediately helpful for athletes, Recon also says these glasses can be used by doctors or any other profession that needs information beamed to their eyes while they’re hands are otherwise occupied.