Augmented Reality (AR), Companies, Intel, News, Wearables

Intel planning to launch smart glasses this year

Brian Krzanich, Intel Corporation chief executive officer, offers a presentation during a rehearsal for the opening keynote at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) on Monday, Jan. 8, 2018, in Las Vegas. Intel displays how the power of data is affecting our daily lives at the event, which runs Jan. 9-12. (Credit: Walden Kirsch/Intel Corporation)

Intel Corp.’s augmented reality division could ship consumer-focused smart glasses before the end of the year, according to reports. This chip-giant values the division at as much as $350 million, said the people, declining to be identified since the plans aren’t public.

Intel is also said to be seeking multiple investors for this unit, which has been developing smart glasses that pair by Bluetooth with a mobile phone.

The spectacles, according to reports, will be able to display contextual information into the wearer’s field of view with a laser-based projector that reflects off the lens and onto the retina. Taiwan’s Quanta Computer Inc. is making the product under contract for Intel. The technology is known internally as Superlite, but the business to be sold will likely be called Vaunt, the people said.

Such is not a first for Intel, who has previously worked with industrial AR headset company Daqri. Their partnership on a merged reality headset design named Project Alloy was, unfortunately, discontinued last year.

This idea of commercial smart glasses backed by a major player as Intel itself, is actually really exciting since it’s known that most companies that have expressed interest in glasses-based AR have also downplayed its short-term importance. Amazon is working on their Alexa-powered glasses, but Apple, Facebook, and Google are all publicly focusing on phone-based AR for now. Smaller companies like Vuzix, however, are moving into the space. And based on Bloomberg’s description, it’s hard to say how ambitious Intel’s plans really are.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas early this month, Chief Executive Brian Krzanich announced the opening of a Los Angeles-based studio space for the production of VR, AR and other new content.

Shares of Intel soared last week following the release of sensational fourth-quarter results. The semiconductor giant’s stock closed 10.5% higher that day, at price levels not seen since the dot-com boom 18 years ago.

In the fourth quarter, Intel’s adjusted earnings rose 24% year over year to land at $1.08 per diluted share. Top-line sales increased 4% to $17.1 billion. Both results ran way ahead of Wall Street’s targets, which called for earnings of $0.87 per share on sales near $16.3 billion.

The strong bottom-line results were obscured from Intel’s GAAP results by a $5.4 billion one-time tax charge, as the Trump administration’s new tax rules took effect. But these expenses don’t figure into non-GAAP metrics, freeing investors to focus on a permanent effective tax rate drop from 20% to 14%.