Basis Science, the activity tracker company that makes the high-end Basis B1 Band, has reportedly been purchased by Intel for between $100 million and $150 million, TechCrunch has learned. The publication had previously reported that Basis was soliciting Google, Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft and was seeking a figure below $100 million.
If true, the buy would be a positive return for Basis investors, including Norwest Venture Capital Partners, DCM, Mayfield Fund, and, notably, Intel Capital. The startup has raised just over $30 million in total.
The future of the Basis Band is still up in the air, with no official word from either Intel or Basis, but many are speculating that the buy was more about intellectual property and the team than about Intel selling Basis Bands. In a recent investor call, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich stressed that the company's current strategy involves branching out beyond PCs and mobile devices, to get Intel computing technology into wearables and the internet of things.
"If a device computes, it does it with Intel -- from the internet of things to the data center," he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "I outlined the areas that are changing to make that vision a reality. Among the changes was a shift towards a more outside-in view of our industry and an intense focus on bringing innovation to market quickly."
Intel also had a strong focus on wearables at CES this year, 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.
"Tracking the data is interesting for some users for some time, but ultimately it doesn't lead to sustained behavior change for very many people," Holove told MobiHealthNews in an interview last year. "So ultimately that led us, once we scratched our heads to try to answer this question for ourselves, it really led us to the conclusion that that's what our job is. Our job is to help people find positive change in their lives, not just simply track what they're doing."
In advance of CES this year, Basis unveiled more advanced sleep tracking as well as an aesthetic upgrade called the Basis Carbon Steel edition. Just last month, the company announced that the Basis Band will be available at Best Buy -- the first brick-and-mortar retail deal for the company.