A cursory glance through today’s wearable offerings shows that most are either designed for men or athletes. If you’re donning a sequin cocktail dress at an evening event, one of these masculine looking, big-screened smartwatches or fitness bands isn’t really going to match the ensemble. Designed in conjunction with fashion retailer Opening Ceremony, Intel’s MICA smart bracelet will soon let women stay connected, without looking like they’re wearing a miniature tricorder.
But MICA isn’t just unique because it’s haute couture, incorporating materials like snake skin, tiger’s eye, and pearls. Nearly every wearable these days is tethered to your smartphone via Bluetooth, making it useless as a notification center if your phone isn’t also nearby. This bracelet, which is priced at $495, includes a 3G radio (with two years of AT&T service included in the price) and GPS, making it a standalone communication device that’s completely independent of your smartphone.
Of course, there are a handful of wearable options for ladies who want to look stylish while staying technology-forward. Fitbit partnered with Tory Burch for a golden bracelet and necklace that tracks your daily activity. Cuff, coming in 2015, looks like jewelry but acts as a security alert in case you need help. And the Netatmo June lets women monitor their sun exposure in a fashion-friendly form factor. Intel’s MICA, however, is one of the first to offer a design focused at the female audience along with smartwatch-type notification functions.
MICA provides SMS and Gmail notifications, which you can dismiss or respond to with customizable, preset auto-replies. You can also get calendar and Facebook notifications. Using TomTom and its GPS chip, the cuff can deliver reminders for when it’s time to head out to your next event based on distance and traffic. It also has a “personal concierge” feature that quickly surfaces Yelp restaurant and business suggestions, so you can find what’s good near you. You can even customize who you actually want to get notifications from on the device’s screen, which is worn on the inside of the wrist rather than on top like a watch.
The cuff, somewhat strangely for today’s mobile world, doesn’t have an associated mobile app. It doesn’t even have Bluetooth. You configure all the settings onboard the device itself. If you lose it and need to locate it, or want to remotely access it and lock it, you can do so through a website. And while wireless charging seems like it would have been a really elegant solution here, MICA charges through your standard old micro USB.
However, if you’re into chunky statement jewelry, not carrying your phone everywhere, and not being completely disconnected from the digital realm, Intel and Opening Ceremony’s bracelet could be an interesting value proposition. You’ll be able to grab a MICA online and in brick and mortar Opening Ceremony and Barney’s stores starting early next month.