At CES in January, we learned that Intel was working with fashion designer Opening Ceremony and Barneys New York to create fashionable wearable devices, with the promise that we would see something out of the collaboration later in the year. They’re delivering on that promise with MICA, a smartwatch designed for women that will hit stores this holiday season.
MICA, which is short for the much less fashionable-sounding ‘My Intelligent Communication Accessory,’ is your standard smartwatch, tech-wise—you can receive notifications, dictate text messages, and receive alerts, although more functionality is planned.
The distinctiveness comes from the input of Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, two designers from Opening Ceremony. They’ve created something more akin to a smart bracelet than a smartwatch. MICA features a water snakeskin band with inlaid semi-precious gems. The result is something that is fashion accessory first, wearable gadget second. For all the wearable gadgets we’ve seen hit the market, not very many of them have managed to pull that trick off. MICA really is something you could wear on a formal night out. Better still, you’d probably get more comments about how great your bracelet looks than comments about how you’re wearing a gadget on your wrist.
Interestingly, AT&T has announced that they will be the exclusive data provider for MICA. This means that MICA, in addition to being one of few truly fashionable wearables on the market, will also be one of the few wearables that can function without being paired to a smartphone. You’ll be able to get notifications and send text messages with MICA alone, without the need for Bluetooth pairing.
MICA will be sold at Opening Ceremony and Barneys New York stores this holiday season, in one of two styles. You’ll be able to choose either a black watersnake skin band with pearls and lapis stones or a white watersnake skin band with tiger’s eye and obsidian.
It’s fair to expect more projects like this from Intel in the near future. At IFA, Intel announced a similar partnership with Fossil to create fashionable wearable devices. So, while MICA might be a more high-priced accessory, it sounds like future Intel wearables could find a happy medium between fashion and affordability.
11/17/2014: We have updated the story with hands on photos and a video.