Wearables are all the rage at the moment, but few existing products have truly captivated an enthusiastic audience. That's where Intel, in collaboration with Opening Ceremony, has come up with something entirely different: a smart fashion bracelet called MICA.
Pocket-lint was one of a handful to get our hands on the device, which stands for My Intelligent Communication Accessory, at the Intel Developer Forum 2014. We caught up with Mike Bell, corporate vice president and general manager of the new devices group, to get the inside line on what it's all about.
"What we found at [New York] fashion week is that people were excited about it even before they realised it was a smart bracelet - they loved the design so much. And we think this is critical for wearables to take off," says Bell.
But MICA isn't ready to be shown as a fully functional device just yet.
"I don't want people playing with the UI (user interface). We [Intel] haven't announced exactly what it does and how it does it."
A top secret business then, but Bell is keen to point out what he sees as the crucial success of wearables to as broad an audience as possible.
"It can't be about the technology. It has to be a seamless integration of the technology and the look and feel of the device or else, you know, you'll have great sales in Silicon Valley but you won't really get that ubiquity that all the analysts are predicting."
Our first impressions are that MICA is big; a bracelet that, in our eyes, looks like it's from the set of Game of Thrones rather than an everyday wearable device. But perhaps we hang around in the wrong circles - after all, Opening Ceremony is a fashion brand and the product was officially launched at a New York Fashion Week.
"It's a very specific size. Opening Ceremony had very specifically said this is the dimension, this is the radius, the size, the curve. They know their customer and they said ‘this is it'," says Bell.
It measures 75 x 61.4mm around, is 30.8mm across and is 7.7mm thick excluding the additional protrusions. That's a serious wedge of bracelet - as thick as plenty of modern flagship smartphones - and not adjustable.
We think that might be problematic though. Despite the touchscreen positioned on the underside of the device not being operational, we would predict having a loose-fitting device would make using the screen tricky in practice. That's just a hunch.
Unlike the Samsungs and Sonys of this world, MICA doesn't rely on budget materials. It incorporates precious stones and materials in its design - with the white model featuring two obsidian stones and a white tiger's eye peering out from the snakeskin band. Yep, obsidian and snakeskin, high fashion lovers.
The black model that we handled features pearls and lapis stones, but to our hands the bulk of the device, i.e. the black and plasticky part, didn't feel as luxury as described. This is a $1,000 dollar product after all.
Overall we think MICA looks like more an experiment in collaboration than a consumer product; a test for the viability of Intel role in the wearables market.
"You're not going to get this adoption of wearables that people are talking about unless you get people to actually wear the jewellery - because that's what it is," says Bell.
"So we are partnering with the best people in the industry to help realise that; to figure out how we add technology to stuff so that when you wear it, it doesn't scream 'geek'".
The jury is still out on that. But if MICA has caught your attention for being that unusual wearable must-have then it will be available from select Barneys and Opening Ceremony stores in the States in time for Christmas.