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Intel recalls Basis Peak fitness trackers due to fire hazard, kills product line

As more and more companies take on the Internet of Things, it’s a given that plenty of devices will have early issues and problems. Even so, the complete recall and cancellation of the Basis Peak is noteworthy — especially given all the money and effort Intel has been pumping into its own Internet of Things business.

Basis is a business funded by Intel Capital with a focus on designing and building fitness trackers. The company and its products are described as follows:

The Basis band has the most advanced sensors on the market, continuously capturing heart rate patterns, motion, perspiration and skin temperature throughout the day and night. You can then find opportunities in your daily routine to insert take-charge-of-your-health actions, like getting more activity and regular sleep. Simply choose the area you want to focus on and Basis does the rest. Basis automatically captures activity and sleep with no button pushing or mode setting required.

Several months ago, Basis recommended that some 0.2% of its fitness tracker owners had experienced overheating from the device. As a result, it recommended that Basis owners cease using the watch until a software update was available to address reports of burning or blistering in a small number of devices. It was apparently impossible to resolve the problem, which led to the total recall discussed here.

Basis-Peak-Watch

While it might be tempting to pin this issue on Intel’s general failure to win much market share for its IoT products, the Basis Peak is, to the best of our knowledge, built around a Cortex-M CPU, not an Intel chip. Another odd thing is that the Basis Peak has been on the market for 18 months and was generally well-reviewed when it shipped. This could lend credence to Basis’ own claims that the issue only affects 0.2% of smart watches — with that low of an incidence rate, the company may well have needed time to identify the cause. One of the problems in science and data gathering is that very low probability events are extremely difficult to distinguish from background noise.

The Basis Peak won accolades when it launched for being the first accurate heart rate and sleep monitoring fitness tracker, though its sales were never very high. It’s not clear if Basis will continue building products after this, but the damage to Intel’s own IoT efforts is PR, not technical.

Details on the recall and additional information for affected customers can be found here.

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