Intel's posh MICA smart watch targets the fashion crowd

This MICA smart watch might not compete on the same level as current wearables, but $495 is just a drop in the bucket for high-fashion devotees.

Intel
This fashion-forward smartwatch might be the last thing you'd expect from a company like Intel.

Smart watches have an image problem, and Intel’s looking to the female demographic to help solve it. The company revealed a $459 smart band, dubbed “My Intelligent Communication Accessory” (MICA), at a press conference Monday.

The wearable device will allow users to check and quickly reply to text messages, e-mails, and calendar notifications. It offers similar yet slimmer offerings compared to more fully fledged wearables in the market, like the Moto 360, the Samsung Gear, and the recently announced Apple Watch.

Aside from its fashion-forward leanings, it has one big distinction from other wearables. It won’t be paired with your device by Bluetooth. Instead, it runs on a 3G connection attached to a 2-year AT&T data plan, included in the tag price.

The band also includes a GPS chip, which integrates with TomTom to tell users when to leave for their next appointment and Yelp to show nearby restaurant and business recommendations, displayed on its curved 1.6-inch OLED screen. The battery can last more than two days, Intel says, and it charges on regular microUSB cables.

As a collaboration between the Council of Fashion Designers of America and the designer fashion brand Opening Ceremony, the MICA bracelet will be sold exclusively at Barneys and Opening Ceremony’s online stores and select retail locations in New York and Los Angeles starting in December.

“MICA acts as an extension of a customer’s smartphone, for those times when it’s not convenient to carry with you,” AT&T senior vice president Chris Penrose told The Daily Mail.

In what situations would this apply? When you’re in a phone-free situation, like during the middle of a treadmill run, or in the middle of a meeting and you don’t have time to grab your phone to respond to a text. The band vibrates instead of making a noise, making notifications noticeable even in the noisiest environment.

“It allows customers to receive texts and email notifications so that they can stay connected, while still wearing a fashionable jewelry piece to almost any occasion,” Mr. Penrose said.

The materials used for the smart watch seem outlandish compared to the simpler and minimal plastic or metal coatings of wearables already on the market. The band comes in two styles, both coated with 18-karat gold. The black version is made with black water snake skin, Chinese pearls, and lapis lazuli, while the other is made with white water snake skin, South African tiger’s eye gemstones, and Russian obsidian.

While $495 might be a steep price to pay compared to what's on the market, consider the tiger's eyes and pearls. The Internet of Things isn't just for the bleeding-edge tech crowd.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.