With the market for wearable technology on pace to become a $10 billion industry by 2016, it's not surprising that everyone from Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) to Intel (NASDAQ: INTC ) wants a piece of the action. As Google Glass readies for its consumer debut, the tech titan is working with Luxottica Group to bring Ray-Ban and Oakley frames to its Google Glass devices. On top of this, Google is collaborating with Fossil and other fashion houses to bring Android smartwatches to the market before year's end. However, Google could face added competition from Intel in this space.
In fact, Intel is taking a particularly inventive approach toward unlocking the future of wearable tech, and it could pay off in spades for the company down the road.
Start small, go big contest
What better way to get ahead of the curve than by crowdsourcing ideas? That's essentially, what Intel is doing with its "Make It Wearable" challenge. In a bid to corner the emerging wearables market, Intel will award $1.3 million in cash grants to winners of its Make It Wearable competition. This global contest aims to fuel innovation by giving individual designers, scientists, and visionaries a platform to fully develop their ideas for real world application.
Participants can enter an idea as a "Visionary Track" or "Development Track." Visionary submissions will be judged based on the following criteria: innovation, ability to disrupt status quo, and potential to make a positive impact. Meanwhile, development track submissions will be judged according to "strength of concept, innovative potential, feasibility of technology and business model, team dynamics, and product design," according to Intel's official rulebook.
In addition to cash prizes, Intel will also work with the winning teams to turn their ideas into real, useable, products. In fact, Intel explains in its official rules that "You don't have to know how to execute your idea or even know whether it is technically feasible" to enter the contest.
The important thing is that you simply share your idea with Intel. After all, the potential for a breakthrough product is far more exciting for Intel because it gives the computing giant first eyes on potentially game-changing ideas within the budding wearables space.
The company's Make It Wearable challenge is no doubt exciting. However, it isn't Intel's only initiative in the wearable computing market today. Intel also has its hands in other ongoing projects including a collaboration with Barneys New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Opening Ceremony. Together, this group is bringing to market wearables such as a smart bracelet design using Intel chips and technology. No word on when this gadget will be available, though Intel did say it will be sold in Barneys stores.
Getting smarter everyday
Intel also hopes to dominate this emerging market through back-end tech such as its Intel Edison mini technology-based computer, which features built-in wireless that's housed in an SD card form factor. Intel is hoping the relatively small size and power of this product will make it an obvious choice for use in a variety of smart consumer products.
We're still in the early stages of an emerging technology market that will have far-reaching implications on how we live our everyday lives. And Intel is proving it has what it takes to be a leader in this space. Looking ahead, investors will want to keep an eye on what ideas and technologies arise from Intel's Make It Wearable challenge. Round two of the contest ends next week, with the remaining categories being judged through the end of June 2014.
However, if you're not much of an inventor, here's a better way to take part in this lucrative emerging tech revolution.
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