Intel is supposedly planning to launch a pair of augmented reality (AR) smart glasses later this year, according to a new report from Bloomberg, which cited sources privy to the matter. The semiconductor manufacturing company is presently looking for investors to fund its AR business, currently valued at approximately $350 million, the majority of which Intel plans to sell. It's not immediately clear how much of its stake in the AR division the company plans to divest, but it is understood that the business unit in question is called Vaunt, which is developing the AR smart glasses code-named Superlite, according to the sources.
The smart glasses are designed to pair with a mobile device via a Bluetooth connection and it will supposedly use a laser-based projector to reflect contextual information from the lens and onto the wearer’s field of view. Quanta Computer Incorporated, a Taiwan-based electronics company, will produce the smart glasses, according to the report. The Superlite AR smart glasses mark Intel's latest attempt to venture into the wearable market, though its previous shot at AR-based smart glasses failed. After acquiring smart glass manufacturer Recon Instruments in June 2015, Intel decided to shut down that business unit last October. Recon Instruments built glasses called the Recon Jet targeted at consumers. Also, the company discontinued its wearable division Basis Science last summer after it laid off approximately 80 percent of its employees in late 2016. The chipmaker bought Basis Science in 2014 for $100 million in a bid to advance its wearable efforts, though the subsidiary's market performance ended up being underwhelming.
Basis Science's closure also marked Intel's shift of focus to the AR segment. With the company's plan to sell its stake in the AR business, Intel now seems to be partially departing that sector as well. Likewise, Intel recently decided to abandon Project Alloy, the company's VR headset project. The semiconductor firm attributed the project's ultimate demise to the general lack of interested partners, though it commended the proof of concept for demonstrating its vision for ultra-premium VR hardware. It's presently unclear whether Intel is eyeing any specific company that could take over the majority of its AR business.