"Fitness is an obvious area where wearables will succeed first," Mr. Bell said, speaking Wednesday during the continuing Web Summit in Dublin. But a lot of the so-called fitness trackers on the market are "glorified pedometers," he said: You could strap them on a paint can and they'd be fooled.
And design remains a glaring constraint, Mr. Bell added. "I don't particularly like square faces," he said. Marketers need to offer watches that look like traditional Swiss pieces but with smart features inside, he said.
If wearables don't improve in the near future, the reality won't live up to the hype, he said. "We want to get into this space quickly," Mr. Bell said. "We'd like to help drive it."
To make sure that Intel's bet pays off, the company has become a tech sponsor of the Council of Fashion Designers of America and worked with design-focused retailer Opening Ceremony to develop a smart bracelet called Mica (for My Intelligent Communication Accessory).
Mr. Bell showed off a MICA bracelet on stage at the Web Summit. "We've done a lot of work to bring technology and fashion together," he said.
Apple's entry into the business with the Apple Watch, of course, helps build consumer interest and ensure that another marketer is paying close attention to design, he said. "Overnight for me it legitimized smart watches," Mr. Bell said.