Google Buys Smart-Watch Maker WIMM to Challenge Rivals

Google Inc., which develops the Android software used on mobile devices, has purchased smartwatch designer WIMM Labs, stepping up efforts against competitors in the wearable-computing market.

Google, which didn’t provide details on the acquisition, completed the deal in 2012, the company said in an e-mailed statement. WIMM Labs, based in Los Altos, California, had unveiled a smartwatch design in 2011 that included a full-color touch screen, Internet access and sensors for tracking the owner’s motions, the company said.

Google, owner of the world’s largest search engine, is ramping up in wearable computing to woo consumers in the emerging industry. The purchase comes as new smartwatch devices are on tap from rivals Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, a wristwatch-like device with features of a smartphone, will be introduced Sept. 4, people with knowledge of the matter have said.

Already, Google has unveiled “Glass” devices, computerized eyewear that lets users check e-mail or access the Web. The devices, now being used by early testers and developers, aren’t yet widely available for consumers.

The company has made no official announcements about plans for a smartwatch.

WIMM Labs had received funding from Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the flagship company of Foxconn Technology Group. The management team had included former executives from Intel Corp. and Apple, the company said.

“During the summer of 2012, WIMM Labs entered into an exclusive, confidential relationship for our technology,” the company says on its website.

Blogger GigaOm earlier reported on the acquisition.

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