Computer giant Intel Corp. (Nasdaq:INTC) is investing $4 million in Recon Instruments, the Vancouver company that makes smartglasses for athletes.
The $4 million in series A funding from Intel Capital is new and builds on $10 million in venture capital that Recon raised last year from other investors.
"Wearable computing is a major, accelerating phenomenon that re-defines how we use and interact with information," said Mike Bell, vice president and general manager of the Intel's New Devices Group.
"In Recon Instruments, we see compelling technology and a solid strategy to capitalize on the wearable revolution. This is an area of significant focus for Intel Capital, and our investment in Recon Instruments is a key part of our approach to innovation in this emerging space."
"We certainly appreciate the cash that Intel brings, but at least as important is the strategic value that Intel brings, in terms of expertise in processor chips, knowledge of offshore manufacturing and expertise across a broad variety of business and technology disciplines," Recon chief marketing officer Tom Fowler told Business in Vancouver.
As reported in BIV in July, Recon's Jet sunglasses have many of the same functions as Google Glass has but are designed for a specific niche: athletes, especially cyclists.
Recon Jet has a built-in microphone and speakers and can connect to sensors – for things like heart-rate monitoring – and to smartphones, allowing users to make calls or read text messages while on the go.
A built-in high-definition camera allows users to take video or still photos, and the glasses have a number of functions, like GPS, that will work offline when there is no cellular connection.
The glasses sell for $600 – about half what Google (Nasdaq:GOOG) has been charging developers for beta versions of Google Glass. The new Jet glasses will begin shipping in March 2014.
Fowler said orders for the Jet glasses are in the thousands – exceeding the company's expectations.
Meanwhile, elsewhere on the smartglass front, Vandrico Solutions Inc., a Vancouver Google Glass app developer, hosted a seminar Wednesday with about 200 other app developers, one of whom used Google Glass to control a small remote-controlled drone helicopter.
"Part of our open-source methodology is to share knowledge and expertise with the
public," said Vandrico CEO Gonzalo Tudela. "Our goal for this presentation was to give the community some Glass tips and show them that developing for Google Glass is actually quite easy."