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Intel has made two interesting acquisitions/investments this week – Basis Science, makers of advanced health smart watches, and OrCam, makers of artificial vision systems that are similar to Google’s Glass.

Intel may power most PC’s but it is still to break the domination of ARM processors in mobile and wearable markets. These moves may well change this!

It is reported to have spent over US$100m – mere petty cash – to acquire Basic Science, makers of advanced, sensor-laden health smart watches. Its products go further than most others. The US$200 Basis B1 Bluetooth watch contains the most advanced sensors on the market, capturing heart rate patterns, motion, calorie expenditure by activity, multiple sleep stages, including REM, perspiration and skin temperature. All of this data is captured 24/7. It is compatible with iOS and Android although it does require a PC or Mac to USB sync back to Basis.

Intel says it does not plan to market wearables itself (though Basis will) but rather plans “to create wearable reference devices, SoCs [Systems on Chips] and other technology platforms ready to be used by customers in development of wearable products.” It clearly thinks Basis is the reference standard for sensor-laden wearables.

OrCam is an interesting Israeli based start-up that makes a system for helping blind people understand the world around them. The US$2500 system comprises a small wearable camera clipped onto standard glasses frames that interprets what it sees and feeds back to the wearer via bone-conduction audio. It also reads gestures, remembers people, objects, places and more.

The OrCam investment values the company at $100 million may well help set standards of computer-aided vision and augmented reality.

Intel has a large healthcare and life sciences division, and this and Basis may be the beginning of a strategy to counter Google.

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 can measure heart rate and display the data on a smartphone screen. He also featured the Jarvis earpiece, a talking personal assistant that can make dinner reservations and scan email.

In 2013, Intel invested in Thalmic Labs, which makes the MYO gestural armband, and Recon Instruments, which is behind the Jet, a heads-up display for sports that has some similarities with Google Glass.

Gives Intel Inside a whole new meaning.

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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw ray@im.com.au  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!

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