The smartwatch market is still in its infancy, which means that the makers of wearable devices do not yet have a clear idea who their target customer will be. Will the average buyer want the most technically advanced device or the one that looks most impressive on his or her wrist? In the case of the MICA smart bracelet, Intel seems to have gone for the glam appeal rather than the geek appeal—with the result being slammed for putting style before substance.
Intel’s trendy new smart bracelet looks very nice—and for $495, it should. Intel badly needs to diversify since making chips for computers doesn’t pay as well as it used to, so the company has a lot riding on the success of this stylish wearable device for the ladies.
The MICA (My Intelligent Communication Accessory) made its debut back in September at New York Fashion week but Intel revealed more about what the smartwatch looked like than what it could do. Now the device is hitting stores in time for the holidays and we’re finally learning about the features of the MICA.
First, appearance, which is the major selling point for the MICA. The smart bracelet has a curved sapphire touchscreen and an 18 karat gold coating. The two styles now available are “white water snakeskin” with obsidian and tiger’s eye or “black water snake skin” with lapis stones and pearls. Yep, it’s a pretty piece of jewelry. But what can it do?
Not a whole lot compared to some of the geekier smartwatches that are aimed at techies or fitness buffs. The main function of the MICA seems to be passing on messages from the wearer’s smartphone when, for whatever reason, she has allowed it to get more than a couple of feet away from her.
Basically, the Intel MICA forwards email notifications and text messages from those the owner has chosen as “important contacts” in Gmail. New messages from those “important contacts” are heralded by an alert vibration, which notifies the wearer to turn her wrist so that she can see the underside of the bracelet. Once she reads the message, there isn’t a whole lot the user can do about it other than choose from a short list of preprogrammed responses. Or go find her smartphone.
If you’re thinking that this doesn’t sound like a lot of function for $495, you’re not alone. An early review has come in from Engadget and it’s not very flattering. According to writer Chris Velazco, “As a piece of technology it’s been very strictly limited by design to serve purposes demanded by the fashionistas and style gurus Intel and Opening Ceremony spoke to. MICA has plenty of style and not nearly as much substance.”
If you’re still interested, the MICA is available from the fashion brand Opening Ceremony and at Barneys New York stores. The $495 price tag includes two years of service with AT&T.