Wearable Tech World Feature Article
November 14, 2013

Wearable Smart Glasses Shipments to Reach 10 Million Globally by 2018

  New research from Juniper Research suggests that smart glasses will not be a passing fad but will rather become a fairly sizable market. Based on the new research, Juniper is now projecting global shipments for wearable smart glasses will reach at least 10 million devices per year by 2018. This compares to what is estimated to be 87,000 pairs shipped this year. Of course this does not include Google Glass, which is still in the hands of early users ahead of an anticipated actual launch in 2014.

The projections are tied to pricing. Juniper underscores that in its model as the retail price for smart glasses decline towards the end of the forecast period, the adoption level amongst consumers will significantly increase. That means of course that in 2014 and 2015 shipments are likely to remain low among general consumers - by which we mean those who are not “automatically” predisposed to pick up a pair as soon as they become available.

The new research report, “Smart Glasses: Market Prospects 2013-2018,”argues that in order for wearable devices such as smart glasses to achieve critical mass, they need to be much more than complementary devices or secondary screens. It is a question as to whether or not this is something that will ever happen. But do consider, for example, the new Pivothead SMART smart glasses.

Nitin Bhas, the report’s author adds, “These devices would need to incorporate intuitive and user-friendly functionalities and capture the imagination of the general public making the technology seamless within their daily routine.” Exactly right. Much of this of course will depend on third party applications that are either already in the works or soon will be. Part of Pivothead’s new IndieGoGo campaign will function around drawing developers into the fold to do exactly this, and of course Google Glass makes no bones about who is buttering the bread.

The industry in general acknowledges the future for wearable computing is a very bright one. That said, it remains to be seen which form factors will end up dominating the industry. Today fitness monitors own that honor - however there are many ways the future can go. Some consider smartwatches to be more socially and naturally accepted – but even with smartwatches it may come down to “ashion” more than “technology” that ultimately determines how the question will be answered. Eyewear in fact may ultimately have the upper edge, though we cannot dismiss the potential issues that constantly crop up, such as privacy.

We ourselves consider privacy to be a bogus issue. There is absolutely nothing one can do with smart glasses that one cannot already do with a smartphone. Surreptitious videos and photos? Please! 

The new report also points to the consumer sector as the first real driver of smart glasses purchases. That said, it is certainly expected that the enterprise and healthcare sectors will immediately follow. In fact, we believe that healthcare may ultimately end up leading the way. Juniper notes that first generation applications such as video documentation and communication will be the first real smart glasses capabilities that will deployed in the healthcare sector, but the true potential of smart glasses will begin to be realized when diagnostic reference, surgical assistance and monitoring can be applied.

Bhas adds, “Long term growth will be achievable but regulatory approval and field trials will potentially impact timescales.”

In the enterprise sector, a number of use cases for smart glasses exists, ranging from engineering to logistics applications. App developers are currently figuring out numerous custom enterprise use cases for developing apps for smart glasses.

Previously Juniper released a report suggesting that the wearable tech market will reach $19 billion in revenue by 2018. We actually believe it will be significantly higher than that. Even so, the wearable tech market is set to become a major tech segment over the rest of the current decade. Smart glasses ill make a significant contribution to all of it.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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