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Intel, Google and TAG Heuer to develop Swiss smartwatch

Intel Corp., Google and TAG Heuer on Thursday announced a partnership to launch a Swiss smartwatch that will use an Intel system-on-chip and will run Google’s Android Wear operating system. The watch will combine Intel’s expertise in hardware, Google’s software platform and TAG Heuer’s expertise in luxury watchmaking, fine materials and design.

“Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility,” said Jean-Claude Biver, president of the watch division at LVMH Group and CEO of TAG Heuer. “Our collaboration provides a rich host of synergies, forming a win-win partnership, and the potential for our three companies is enormous.”

Based on unofficial reports, the three companies have worked on a luxurious smartwatch for some time now. Today, the collaboration was made official at Baselworld, an annual trade show of the international watch and jewellery industry, organized in the city of Basel, Switzerland. The announcement at Baselworld, not at CeBIT, which also takes place this week, indicates that the three companies want to create smartwatches for people who already use fine watches from leading producers, not the high-tech crowd.

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Nothing particular is known about the upcoming smartwatch from TAG Heuer. The three companies said that the plan is to create a product that is both luxurious and seamlessly connected to its wearer’s daily life. The developers did not reveal feature-set of the device, but one could expect basic functionality found on smartwatches as well as on health and fitness trackers. The chronograph will be assembled in Switzerland, but will not necessarily carry “Swiss Made” brand, which may indicate that they will not feature a Swiss mechanical movement. TAG Heuer plans to start selling its smart timepieces sometimes in late 2015. Pricing and functionality will be unveiled in the Q4 2015, ahead of launch. It is unclear whether TAG Heuer plans to compete against stainless steel Apple Watch or golden Apple Watch Edition devices with its new smart wristwatch.

It is highly likely that the TAG Heuer smartwatch will be powered by Intel Quark system-on-chip or Intel Curie module. The Quark integrates one Pentium [P54C] core, an LPDDR2 memory controller and a host of I/O capabilities. The Curie module (pictured below) unveiled early this year features one Quark SoC, low-power integrated DSP sensor hub with a proprietary pattern matching accelerator, Bluetooth Low Energy, 6-axis combo sensor with accelerometer and gyroscope as well as battery charging circuitry (PMIC). The watch will use Google’s Android Wear operating system and will therefore be compatible with a lot of modern smartphones.

“As we work to enable technology experiences that provide greater utility and value to people, Intel is confident that a collective approach will inspire new innovation in wearable technology,” said Michael Bell, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel’s new devices group. “The collaboration with TAG Heuer and Google brings us closer to realizing the vision of wearable technology with a distinctive smartwatch that elevates the category.”

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TAG is an abbreviation of Techniques d’Avant Garde, which emphasizes the brand’s striving for innovation. Based in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, TAG Heuer already sells custom luxury smartphones powered by Google Android operating system. For loyal customers, the smartwatch is going to complement the handsets.

TAG Heuer is among the first Swiss watchmaker to introduce a smart-watch. Intel has been collaborating with numerous makers of wearable gadgets to promote its processors for such ultra-low-power applications.

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KitGuru Says: It will be extremely interesting to see how the three companies manage to wed style and technology together. Many smartwatches today are rather eye-catching, but they still lack style and charisma of mechanical watches, which is why they lack emotional connection with their owners. Hopefully, the collaboration between Intel, Google and TAG Heuer will produce something that combines technology, art, traditions and soul.

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