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Why Intel Is on the Cutting Edge of Smart Clothing

The Curie blurs the line between wearables and clothing.

Intel CEO Brain Krzanich holding the Intel Curie Credit: Intel

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It's 2015, and for better or worse, "smart clothing" is becoming a thing. Unfortunately, most of the current examples look like someone glued a Fitbit to a shirt and called it a day.

But Intel wants to change all that, bringing smarts to your clothes without you even knowing it. How do they plan to pull that off? With the Intel Curie—a tiny computer the size of a button.

Imagine a cufflink that tracks your walking, or a bathing suit that tracks your swimming.

The Curie is built around an Intel Quark SE system-on-a-chip (SoC) microcontroller, a six-axis accelerometer and gyroscope, a Bluetooth LE radio, and a coin cell battery. Thanks to its tiny size, it can be hidden inside everything from shirts, to handbags, to jewelry—all without compromising the product's sense of style.

More importantly, it could help us track fitness without wearing those ugly bracelets. Imagine a cufflink that tracks your walking, or a bathing suit that tracks your swimming.

The Curie could open up a whole new world of possibilities for wearables—even some that don't make a whole lot of sense just yet. For instance, Intel recently showed off its own possible use case: a wristband for controlling spider robots with arm gestures. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

Popular Science reports that Intel CEO Brian Krzanich controlled a small army of creepy spiderbots at the Intel Developer Forum in Shenzhen, China. He was able to get them to do the spider equivalent of a fist bump and even go to sleep with the wave of his hand.

Alpha Seeker also notes that the Curie has beaten ARM-based competitors to the punch. That's a big deal. Intel missed the boat when it came to mobile processors for smartphones and tablets, but with the Curie, it could soon be at the forefront of the nascent wearables market.

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