Intel reportedly laying off much of wearables group; shelving new Basis device

By Jonah Comstock
12:39 pm
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According to a report from TechCrunch, Intel is laying off a large portion of its wearable group. The original report indicated that this meant the company is pulling away from wearables, but Intel denied that in a statement.

"Intel is in no way stepping back from the wearables business," the company told TechCrunch. "In fact, we have several products in the works that we are very excited about, as well as prior launches that highlight our wearable technology such as the TAG Heuer Connected watch and recent Oakley Radar Pace smart eyewear."

However, Intel didn't deny reports of layoffs, nor TechCrunch's report that the next generation of Basis, a slimmer smartwatch aimed at women called the Basis Ruby, had been shelved. The two examples Intel gave in the statement are telling with regards to the future direction of Intel's wearables focus: They are both Intel-powered offerings for other brands, suggesting that Intel's approach going forward will likely be more collaborative than original.

We predicted the death of the Basis brand this summer when the company halted production of its Basis Peak device due to an overheating issue that affected just 0.2 percent of the watches on the market. For a few months the company held out hopes of fixing the problem with a software update, but in August developers threw in the towel, issuing a voluntary recall and offering full refunds to customers. As a final nail in the coffin, the company said it would stop sending out update emails and stop supporting the devices, and customers would lose access to their data at the end of the year.

"We are issuing this safety recall of the Basis Peak watch because the watch can overheat, which could result in burns or blisters on the skin surface. It is important that you stop using your watch immediately and return it," Josh Walden, SVP and General Manager of the Intel New Technology Group, wrote at the time. "Although we are stopping support for Basis Peak immediately, you can access your data until December 31, 2016. After that date, the Basis Peak services will be turned off. Once we shut down the services, your watch will no longer be able to sync, which will cause it to stop working."