Intel Recalls Its Too-Hot Smartwatch

Intel has endured a setback in its endeavor to become a pioneer in the emerging market of wearable devices after it was compelled to recall a smartwatch for safety reasons. In June after first hearing complaints, the chip maker cautioned customers to stop wearing the device.

Intel to give full refund

Intel told customers that after finding that the Basis Peak smartwatch can overheat, resulting in blisters or burns on the surface of the skin, it is asking all customers to return it.

“We are aware that a small number of customers have reported discomfort, blistering or burns on their wrist under the watch body,” the chip giant said.

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Intel did not disclose the number of watches it sold or how many watches malfunctioned, but it referred to the number of “reported cases” at one in 500 when issuing the first warning. In addition, the chip maker said a few of its customers had complained about their charging cradles melting and overheating.

A full refund will be paid, including tax and transportation expenses, of $234, to customers in the U.S. and €244 in Europe, said Intel. The smartwatch was developed by an unnamed company in China, according to the chip making giant.

“This recall includes authorized accessories, which are the Basis charging cradle and accessory watch straps,” the chip maker says.

Overheating a common issues among wearables

In 2014, the chip maker acquired BASIS Science, a start-up that created the Peak. Smartwatches and fitness trackers were expected to be a big new market at the time when the chip making giant acquired BASIS Science. There were expectations that smartwatches would turn into a huge expansion of the smartphone computing platform, but even the Apple Watch, which debuted a year later, failed to boost the category that many have hoped for.

The Peak, described as “the ultimate sleep and fitness tracker,” went on sale in November 2014. The smartwatch was actually a part of Intel’s attempt to create basic designs and so-called “systems on-a-chip” for wearable devices, which it could then offer to various device makers.

Keeping gadgets from becoming too hot is a common issue in wearables, given that they pack significant computing power into a small form factor and are worn right next to the skin. There are several lawsuits against Fitbit claiming overheating and other problems with its range of fitness and health-monitoring wristbands. In 2014, Fitbit settled a class-action case over grievances that adhesives in one of its wristbands caused skin problems.