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Intel bolsters its wearables team, acquires company behind the Basis fitness band

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Intel made it clear during its keynote at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this year that it's taking fitness devices seriously, and now it has announced a move to back that up. The chipmaker confirmed today that it has acquired Basis Science, the company behind the Basis fitness band. The band was first released in 2013, and an updated version came out last month. Like competition from Fitbit and Jawbone, the band collects walking data and sleep information, though it one-ups those other products with an optical sensor to record heart rate, perspiration, and body temperature. TechCrunch first reported the deal earlier this month for a rumored price of roughly $100 million. The final figure has not been announced.

The acquisition may not seem like a natural fit for Intel, which is known primarily as a producer of chips. However, last year the company formed a "New Devices" group under former Apple and Palm executive Mike Bell that was tasked with staying on top of trends and emerging product categories.

Basis team will work on "future wearable initiatives" at Intel

At this year's CES, Intel showed off a number of reference devices from the group, including a smart watch and a wearable headset with Siri-like functionality. Intel doesn't plan to produce this hardware for sale, but the reference devices can help spur on chip purchases as other manufacturers move forward with making similar devices of their own. In an interview with Recode from earlier this year, Bell said that "we’re showing what’s possible ... we will work with other companies to bring them to market."

With the acquisition, Basis' staff with be folded into the New Devices group. In a press release, Bell says that the acquisition "provides immediate entry into the market with a leader in health tracking for wearable devices." He added, "we will build upon this foundation to deliver products that bring people greater utility and value." The Basis team, meanwhile, says in the blog post that "we felt like the momentum Basis had generated on its own would only be greater with the technical, manufacturing, global reach and support resources Intel has to offer." Intel says that the team will be left to continue work on its future products and continue support for its current fitness bands while it is brought into the company to "begin work on future wearable initiatives."