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Intel’s MICA watch fuses style and substance


Tech-chic is the trend this season as the fashion world is all a buzz with news of a new smartwatch vowing to trounce its rivals in the looks stakes, and take the gadget world by storm.

The MICA watch stands for My Intelligent Communication Accessory and was a professional collaboration between tech giant Intel and French fashion brand Opening Ceremony.

Aimed at the technically savvy and fashion forward, the women’s jewel encrusted MICA looks like a bracelet, comes in two styles and will be one of the most aesthetically impressive pieces of techno wear available on the market.

Ayse Ildeniz, vice president and general manager for New Devices Group at Intel Corporation said:

“Our pioneering collaboration with Opening Ceremony and the introduction of this category-defining smart jewelry piece advances wearable technology as a distinctively stylish accessory that places importance on both aesthetics and functionality.”

Intel’s “feminine communications accessory” will set you back $495 and is only available at New York luxury retailer Barneys, Open Ceremony stores, and online. Its official launch will be at Opening’s Ceremony’s spring/summer 2015 fashion show on the Sunday of New York Fashion Week.

The device comes with access to personal email, Yelp, Gmail, Facebook, events, Google calendar and SMS messaging. It runs a 3G connection attached to an AT&T contract plan for 2 years.

Its 18K gold coating and curved sapphire glass touch screen technology aims to set itself apart from the competition as being the choice for women without the need to substitute style over substance.

Intel Mica

Describing the watch, AT&T senior vice president Chris Penrose said:

“MICA acts as an extension of a customer’s smartphone, for those times when it’s not convenient to carry with you. It allows customers to receive texts and email notifications so that they can stay connected, while still wearing a fashionable jewellery piece to almost any occasion,”

As a fashion statement, it is like no other smartwatch on the market. The wrist band is available in two options, black water-snake skin with pearls and lapis stones, or white water-snake skin with tiger’s eye and Obsidian.

MICA will join the array of smartwatches already on the market, which at present, only consist of a handful, but there are dozens in development and it is expected that the number will grow from 40 to 200 by the end of 2014.

Where the MICA’s buyers will mainly be from over the pond, here in the UK the top five Smartwatches are the LG G Watch- £159, The Samsung Gear Live- £169, The Moto 360- £199, the Sony Smart Watch 3- £189 and the LG G Watch R- £225.

In the UK, there is no smartwatch that stands above the rest. Ownership is going up but smartwatches comprise of only 11% of the wearable’s market, a study by retail tracking company GFK found out. But with the impending release of the Apple Watch in early 2015, these figures are likely to change.

When market leaders Apple announced they were releasing a wearable computing device in the form of a wristwatch this September, much of the buzz surrounding the news was on how it would contend against other similar devices presently available, namely the Samsung Gear.

Where the MICA’s watch market is clearly defined, Apple’s mass appeal is largely its audience of followers who enjoy the sleek minimalistic signature designs that the company is known for together with their amazing ability to stay ahead of competitors by reinventing products that become leaders in the field of technology.

In 2013, the global smartwatch industry reached a market value of $700mn, ten times that of 2012. In 2014, the industry is expected to grow to $2.5bn with a 5% share of the watch industry as a whole.

Early collaborators Samsung entered the market in 2013 with the Galaxy Gear. It was not a critical success. Despite the lack of growth, they had a percentage share of 34% in 2013 and were responsible for the significant development in the smartwatch industry.

At the time, Samsung beat Microsoft, Apple and Google by delivering their curved touchscreen device first. The Galaxy Gear’s appearance is much like a miniature smartphone and available in colour options white, orange, black, grey, and white gold. A colour touch screen could run apps and be used for voice calls. It was one of the only smartphones to work without the support of a mobile phone.

Pascal Koenig, managing director of the smartwatch group who release statistical data analysis of the watch industry said:

“While the first phase of the smartwatch revolution has been very technology driven, future smart watches will start to be good looking. In this respect, today’s watch industry has much to offer to this emerging industry.

“Together with the exploding numbers of app developers, this growth of hardware providers will form a virtuous circle for fast growth of the smartwatch industry in the years to come. In terms of the dominant players, we expect Apple and Google to be among the top ten players at the end of 2014”

Apples contribution to the smartwatch market will come in three varieties; standard, sporty and high-end for the fashion conscious. It is also available in two sizes.

Apple’s high-end version is more comparable to the MICA than the other two, with its ceramic face, 18 karat gold body and sapphire crystal face, and will set the pace for the competition and future devices.

Research conducted in May 2014 on 4,000 UK, US, French and German customers, asked how many of them intended to buy a smartwatch. Before the Apple announcement, 4% of the people expressed interest, but the number more than doubled to 9% when they were asked again in October after news of the Apple Watch release date was broadcast.

The research shows interest in smartwatch technology significantly increased following the September announcement of the release of Apple’s device.

Apple’s appeal is its remarkable success, which lies in the company’s ability to create truly innovative products resulting in huge consumer loyalty and a high level of profitability.

The bottom line is, wearable technology is becoming increasingly one of the areas that has been of most interest, to both consumers and technology companies alike.

Technology companies like Intel entering the fashion market are still in their infancy, but as main leaders they are paving the future generation of wrist wear computers that are part of our lives, whether we are ready or not.

Daniella Vitale, chief operating officer at Barney’s New York said:

“Mobile technology really guides everything we do, the issue for many consumers on wearable technology lies in the fact that the devices typically are not attractive and are often at times cumbersome.

“Intel had the prescience to create something functional but also beautiful and chic. We are excited to be the first on something that mirrors the Barneys strategy of a beautiful, exclusive and unique product.”

Published on Monday 24 November by Editorial Assistant

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