Intel confirms acquisition of health wearable company Basis Science

By Brian Dolan
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Basis Band Carbon SteelIntel has confirmed its rumored acquisition of Basis Science, the activity tracker company that makes the high-end Basis B1 Band. Earlier this year TechCrunch first reported the Intel deal and pegged it at between $100 million and $150 million, however, Intel did not disclose any financial details of the Basis acquisition. At the beginning of 2014, we reported on rumors that Basis was soliciting Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft for a buyout at a price point below $100 million. Notably, Intel Capital became an investor in Basis last October and joined the company's board at that time. Other Basis investors included Norwest Venture Capital Partners, DCM, and Mayfield Fund. The startup raised just over $30 million in total.

As part of its announcement, Intel said that the Basis band will still be available through its existing retail channels -- which include Best Buy stores. The Basis Science team will continue to build out the product and support the device's users, and also work on future wearable initiatives with others at Intel.

In a letter to its users signed by the Basis Science Team, the company explained why it thought Intel was the best choice for an exit:

"Most know Intel as the legendary company that Bob Noyce and Gordon Moore founded in 1968, putting the 'silicon' in Silicon Valley. We’ve come to know Intel at a slightly deeper level than that. They’ve been strong supporters of our vision and of our team, investing in Basis and being on our board since October 2013. Their mission to create and extend computing technology to connect and enrich the lives of every person, meshes well with our own. Plus, as we talked more, we found that we shared a common purpose in applying the very best technology in the world to helping people lead healthier lives. Intel has a broad wearables strategy and we are now a key part of it."

The team also promised that Basis would benefit from Intel's "technical, manufacturing, global reach and support resources" and that it would become "an integral part of Intel’s new devices group."

"So, if you’re a user of our product or partner, it means you will see continued innovation from Basis while still staying true to our mission," the company wrote. "If you are a current customer of Basis, while the Intel deal constitutes a transfer of ownership and control, we continue to abide by our privacy policy, respecting all your data. We will also continue to be your source for customer support, software updates and other aspects of the product." 

Intel also had a strong focus on wearables at CES 2014, premiering its own smartwatch, as well as smart earbuds that, like the Basis Band, monitor the user's heart rate.

Basis's $199 device, which CEO Jef Holove has said aspires to be the BMW of the category, had a long road to market. The company was founded in 2005 under the name PulseTracer, but re-branded as Basis in 2011 in anticipation of its product launch. That launch didn't actually happen until the very end of 2012, a delay might have partly resulted from an as-yet-unresolved patent lawsuit from BodyMedia.

The Basis Band includes an optical blood flow monitor, a 3-axis accelerometer, a perspiration sensor, plus skin and ambient temperature sensors. It uses those sensors to support a behavior change program called Healthy Habits that runs on a compatible Android or iOS mobile device. Users can select "habit cards," which present goals that become more challenging as users meet them. Goals are all things that can be automatically tracked and measured by the device.

In advance of CES this year, Basis unveiled more advanced sleep tracking as well as an aesthetic upgrade called the Basis Carbon Steel edition. Soon after, the company announced that the Basis Band will be available at Best Buy -- the first brick-and-mortar retail deal for the company.