Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 07, 2015

Intel's Button-Sized Module is Capable of Powering Future Wearables

We know Intel as being the world’s largest semiconductor chipmaker creating the x86 series of microprocessors, which can be found in most personal computers. However as times progressed, Intel was too slow getting onboard with wireless and tablet chips. Over the past year, the company has been trying to change that.

Since taking over the reins as CEO, Brian Krzanich has worked to get Intel moving forward again. Intel has entered into certain partnerships, as well making some acquisitions designed to secure a spot in the world of wearables.

Last year at CES 2014, Intel announced a development module that is the size of an SD card based on its Quark SOC called Edison. This is a miniature computer offered as a development system for wearable devices. This year, at CES 2015, Intel has unveiled a low-powered module that is roughly the size of a button. The unit is called Curie and will be built on a smaller new chip dubbed the Quark SE.

The Quark SE SOC will feature a low-power, 32-bit microcontroller with 384 kB of flash memory and 80 kB SRAM. It also has a combination sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope as well as Bluetooth Low Energy support. Curie is a development module designed with a variety of features that developers can use to build their own wearables.

In describing Curie in an interview with WIRED.co.uk, Intel vice president and devices general manager, Mike Bell said "You could think of it maybe as Edison for wearables. So whereas Edison really itself is targeted to a wide range of makers, this is really targeted at wearable applications. For this wearables market to take off, it's not just going to happen, we have to really help push it, we have to make it easy."

One thing that has held back some possible wearables is that device-makers need to develop their own custom boards. Bell believes that Curie is something that can help speed up the development process. The combination of Bluetooth connectivity, motion sensors and battery charging in a very small footprint should go a long way in the world of wearables. There seems to be a lot of focus on battery management which is quite crucial when it comes to wearables.

While Krzanich did announce the development of Curie during his keynote address and that it would be available sometime later this year, there was no mention of a pricing structure for the new chips. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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