Intel Capital puts $28M into Chinese Android, wearables, biometrics and M2M firms

Intel Capital, the U.S. chip firm’s venture capital arm, has invested $28 million into Chinese biometrics, internet of things, wearables and in-game communications firms – and also the developer of a major Chinese Android fork.

The company announced the recipients of the first tranche of its $100 million Intel Capital China Smart Device Innovation Fund, which was set up back in April, on Tuesday. This is [company]Intel[/company] Capital’s third Chinese fund – it’s invested more than $700 million in Chinese companies over the last 16 years, which doesn’t count the $1.5 billion Intel recently put into chip firms [company]Spreadtrum Communications[/company] and [company]RDA Microelectronics[/company] via a local holding company.

The investment in [company]LeWa[/company], the creator of the Android-based LeWa OS (pictured above), is quite interesting. LeWa OS is customized for manufacturers of low-cost smartphones, and the company provided a custom ROM for the short-lived Nokia X Android handset in China. According to Intel Capital, it’s the “largest third-party OS provider in China.” The firm has also taken investment from [company]Tencent[/company].

[company]Appscomm[/company] makes for another notable investee. Having been the first firm to publicly release a smartwatch with a [company]Qualcomm[/company] Mirasol display, Appscomm focuses on elder care and health management, as well as sports and fashion.

[company]EyeSmart[/company], meanwhile, produces iris recognition technology that can be incorporated into wearables as well as smart cars, mobile devices and so on. It’s worth noting here that Intel Capital invested in September in a Californian firm called [company]Delta ID[/company] that does something similar. This all gels well with Intel’s “perceptual computing” drive, which involves very sensitive webcams that can be used for biometric authentication and fine-grained gesture control.

The other two recipients of Intel Capital’s moolah are [company]Gotye[/company] (not the singer, obviously) and [company]Fibocom[/company]. Gotye, which provides cloud-based communications functionality for games and other apps, actually revealed its Intel Capital funding about 10 days ago. Fibocom makes communications and geolocation modules for machine-to-machine applications from smart grids to healthcare and automotive.