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Intel abandons Vaunt smart glasses project

Brian Heater
It might just be time for Intel to admit that it’s not great at this whole

It might just be time for Intel to admit that it’s not great at this whole wearables thing. A few months after their flashy online debut, the Vaunt smart glasses are dead, the chipmaker has confirmed. Some things, it seems, are just too beautiful to live — or receive sufficient investment from their parent company.

The news originally surfaced via a report from The Information, which also notes that this reportedly marks the final nail in the long, drawn-out death of the company’s New Devices Group.

The department appears to have been struggling for a while now — in late 2016, the group was hit with layoffs, and ultimately some key projects in its hardware pipeline, including the latest Basis fitness tracker. This latest move is likely to result in “some layoffs” to the 200 person team, according to the source.

The company confirmed the end of Vaunt (codenamed Superlight) in a statement offered to TechCrunch.

"Intel is continuously working on new technologies and experiences. Not all of these develop into a product we choose to take to market,” Intel writes. “The Superlight project is a great example where Intel developed truly differentiated, consumer augmented reality glasses. We are going to take a disciplined approach as we keep inventing and exploring new technologies, which will sometimes require tough choices when market dynamics don't support further investment." 

It is, indeed, a tough call to make. Intel’s been pretty open about its failure to sufficiently embrace mobile the first time around, losing significant market share to companies like Qualcomm. Intel has certainly made its share of investments in hopes of owning a share of wearable tech, but none have really paid off, and with the category plateauing a bit over the past year, it’s probably a good time to cut its losses.

The Vaunt seemed promising, but the online glimpse we got of the product didn’t appear to be fully thought out. Of course, companies experiment with hardware prototypes all the time — but most of these things never see the light of day.