Intel Capital, the VC arm of chipmaker giant Intel, just distributed the first batch of its US$100 million China Smart Device Innovation Fund to five Chinese startups specializing in wearable devices, smartphones, and the Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
“Investments from the fund are earmarked to help drive smart device innovation in China and beyond. These innovative companies will help lead to a new wave of product development in China in smartphones, tablets, wearables and the Internet of things.” – Arvind Sodhani, EVP of Intel and President of Intel Capital
Companies that received collectively the first US$28 million include EyeSmart Technology, a Beijing-based startup making low-cost iris recognition technology that allows eyes to function as passwords. With the emergence of Apple Pay, biometric user authentication is obviously drawing interest. EyeSmart’s technology could be used in smart home gadgets, wearables, cars, and mobile payments, among others.
Shenzhen Fibocom Industrial Development, an IoT market player, as well as Guangdong Appscomm Digital Technology, a wearable devices maker developing smartwatches, bracelets, and heart rate monitor, also received funds. One interesting product is a Bluetooth smartwatch that advises Muslim users about prayer times and the direction of Mecca, toward which prayers are usually made.
The two other recipients of the Intel funds include Shanghai Ailiao Information Technology, a mobile gaming communication services provider, and LeWa, a stylish startup that makes a good-looking Android ROM.
Intel currently relies on Chinese companies for quick and low-cost device conceptualization and development. Intel Capital has already invested more than US$700 million in 120 Chinese companies since 1998 and about US$2 billion into Asian startups since its inception in 1991.