Intel Buys Smartwatch Maker Basis Science

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Intel ( INTC) has won what was described as a bidding war for smartwatch manufacturer Basis Science. According to published reports, Intel paid somewhere between $100 million and $150 for the company.

Google ( GOOG), Apple ( AAPL), Microsoft ( MSFT) and Samsung reportedly also were interested in buying the company from investors Norwest Venture Partners, Mayfield Fund and Intel Capital.

Intel shares were advancing 0.90% to $24.72 in early New York trading.

Competition in the wearable computer segment is fierce. Qualcomm ( QCOM), Texas Instruments ( TXN) and STMicroelectronics ( STM) are major players in the manufacture and sale of electronic sensors for wearables.

Basis makes only one product -- a health-tracking wristwatch -- which currently holds 7% of the market for wearable computers. Rival Jawbone commands 21% of the rapidly expanding wearable segment.


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Basis claims that its watch differs from the competition because of special sensors built into the watch band. The sensors are able to capture heart rate patterns, motion, calorie burning, as well as monitor sleep, perspiration and skin temperature 24/7.

It is believed Intel was interested in purchasing Basis Science for its much praised hardware design as well as the personnel that created it.

At this year's Consumer Electronics Show, Intel was touting wearable computing devices as the next big thing. The company introduced Jarvis --- a Bluetooth headset which can understand and carry out spoken commands. It also announced a smart chip called Edison which can be added to many consumer items such as smart baby clothing and even beer mugs.

Intel also displayed a smartwatch prototype as part of its wearables introduced at the Las Vegas show. That prototype featured built-in cellular connectivity (no need to tether to a smartphone like Samsung's Galaxy Gear devices), GPS, wireless inductive battery charging as well as health tracking capabilities. At the time, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich hinted his company might be working with partners who would help bring new wearable designs to market.

The Basis watch currently retails for $179 to $199 at the company's online store.

-- Written by Gary Krakow in New York.

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