Intel has issued a recall for all Basis Peak smartwatches due to thermal problems. The company says owners need to stop using the device immediately and return the wearable as soon as possible.
Intel sold the Basis Peak between Nov. 2014 and June 2016 -- which is when it says it discovered the problem. According to Intel, the Basis Peak can overheat, which "could result in burns or blisters on the skin surface." Intel has been working since June to resolve the problem through a software fix, but hasn't succeeded.
"We had hoped to update the software on your watch to address the problem. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we aren't able to develop such a solution without completely compromising the user experience," said Josh Walden, SVP and general manager for Intel's New Technology Group, in a statement posted to Intel's website.
The company says only 0.2% of the watches are known to be faulty, but it is asking all owners to return them anyway.
"This was a tough decision, but your safety is our top priority," said Walden.
Intel purchased San Francisco-based Basis Science in March 2014 as a way to jumpstart its efforts in the wearables space. The chipmaker, which has already ceded the smartphone market to competitors such as ARM, hoped to find relevance in smartwatches and other connected, mobile devices. With the Basis Peak, Intel could point to at least one wearable that has "Intel Inside."
Intel has not said how many Basis Peak devices were shipped in the 19 months it was available. The number can't be too large, since Intel's presence in the smartwatch market falls under the "other" category in recent analysis provided by IDC. Combined, the "other" category shipped just 600,000 units during the second quarter.
Intel is asking everyone who owns a Basis Peak to send the device, charger, and other accessories back. The company will provide a full refund. Owners will receive $234 for the standard model ($199 plus $20 tax and $15 shipping) and $344 for the titanium model ($299 plus $30 tax and $15 shipping).
Owners' fitness data will be available through Dec. 31, 2016, at which point Intel will shut down the online services for Basis Peak. Owners have until then to download their data.
"On behalf of the Basis Science team, I want to personally apologize for this situation. We know that many of you love using your Basis Peak watches and have made it part of your daily lives, and we are very sorry for the disruption this will cause you," concluded Walden.
Intel has not said if or when it will re-enter the market for smartwatches.Eric is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies. View Full Bio