CLARA, Calif. — The fast-growing field of "wearables"
— apparel and accessories that contain some sort of
connected technology — is forcing chipmakers to find
common ground with the fashion world.
a learning process, according to Ayse Ildeniz, who is
vice president and general manager for business
development and strategy with Intel’s New Devices
Group. Engineers have had to learn about fashion and
clothes, and accessory designers have had to learn about
the collaboration already has produced the button-sized
Curie module, based on an energy-efficient Intel chip
called the Quark, which can be programmed to take on a
multitude of tasks for the burgeoning Internet of
spoke with the San Jose Mercury News recently. The
interview has been edited for clarity and length.
You have spoken a lot about the role of technology in
women’s lives. What are the main issues that you see
as a woman in technology?
I think we need to make sure, when we’re providing
technology, that we cater to the needs of different
segments of the market. Women are very, very important
as far as wearables are concerned. Women do care hugely
about what they wear and what they put on themselves. We
need to make sure as technologists we provide cool usage
models. Aesthetics is important.
How would you go about it?
The way we decided to go about it is through
partnerships. Instead of ourselves sitting in a lab
insularly, to go out and talk to people who have been
making these things for years. Two years ago, when we
kicked off the New Devices Group, we went after
Luxottica, Fossil — 15 brands in all. We went out and
partnered with (the Council of) Fashion Designers of
America. We got together with these people and we picked
their brains as to what do they think women would wear.
We came out with a smart bracelet, MICA — an Opening
Ceremony brand — which is sold at Barneys instead of
at a tech store. The bracelet has been overwhelmingly
loved by women because of its aesthetics.
This must have been a learning experience.
A huge one. First, it was working with a fashion house,
then working with Oakley, part of the Luxottica Group,
and then a product with TAG Heuer.
What went into designing the smart bracelet?
The way we approached it is this: We got together with
fashion designers, creatives and innovators, and we
asked them about our first design, which was what we
imagined a bracelet might be like. It was a rectangle,
and it was huge. The Opening Ceremony folks said:
"You got to be kidding me, it needs to be rounder
and much thinner." The first design they faxed us
from New York City was all metal and thin. Our engineers
said: "It’s not possible. How can you embed a
radio in something that’s fully metal? It’s not
going work." So there was an amazing back and forth
between New York City and Silicon Valley about what’s
possible, what do they want, how could we do it as
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Since then you have done a dress and a sports bra with a
cutting-edge fashion house, Chromat. How did that go?
They (Chromat) understand tech very well. They’ve done
3-D printing and LED light stuff. They understand
material. This dress, or the carbon fiber in back of the
dress, takes a shape like an hourglass when the wearer’s
adrenaline gets high.
What about the sports bra?
I can’t tell you the why. I can tell you the what and
how. Our Curie module, which is so small, came out of
our partnership with the fashion world which told us,
"Everything you guys are doing is great, it’s
just too big." So we went back and did this little
button-like thing with sensors for perspiration and body
temperature. If it gets too warm and you’re
perspiring, it opens little vents (to) help the body
breathe a little better.
What else is coming?
By 2020 and 2025 there are going be 50 billion connected
things which we call the Internet of Things, and we are
trying to make that a reality. Everything in the world,
from the lamp to the desktop you’re using to the shirt
you’re wearing will have some kind of intelligence.
Only then can the Internet of Things dream become a
reality. Intel is invested in making this happen. You’re
going see many more things.
So engineers and fashion have finally merged?
It’s a journey. There (are) a lot of mechanical
issues, mechanical design problems to be fixed. These
are questions we never have to worry about in
technology. We’re all for function in technology and
the fashion world is all about aesthetics and beauty.
Bachelor’s degree, Bosphorus University, Istanbul,
Turkey, 1982; master’s in communication arts, San
Francisco State, 1996
At Intel since 1988; vice president and general manager
for business development and strategy, New Devices Group
at Intel 2013-present; regional director for Middle
East, Turkey and Africa, 2004-2013; general manager for
Turkey, 2001-2004; marketing director for the
Mediterranean, Middle East and Africa region, 1998-2001
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT AYSE ILDENIZ
She is an avid traveler and has visited more than 80
She motorbikes, sails, hikes and adventure travels.
Her hobbies are history and archaeology, and she spends
time off working archeological digs.
She likes to learn the local languages at these digs.
She likes to spend time in the summer with friends on
the Aegean coast.