Wearable Tech World Feature Article
November 04, 2014

Smart Glasses Set For Slim Shipments

Wearable technology in general has been primed for some impressive gains even in the short term, but the growth patterns are far from universal. Indeed, while fitness trackers and smartwatches are enjoying some substantial growth in the field, that growth won't be seen everywhere, particularly for the smart glasses segment of the market. A new study from Juniper Research suggests that smart glasses will ship fewer than 10 million units annually until at least 2018, thanks to a variety of factors.

So what market conditions are proving to be a head wind for smart glasses adoption? The problem right now, according to Juniper Research, seems to be two-fold: the first problem is how long it takes these items to go from concept to release, and when the devices finally are released, the second problem kicks in: a limited impact for the consumer.

Many smart glasses, according to Juniper Research, are seen as threats to the privacy of those around said devices, and so wearing smart glasses might actually be regarded as a threat not only to others, but to the wearer as well. With consumers and government groups alike sounding mutual alarm over the devices, it's clear that there's going to be quite a bit working against widespread smart glasses adoption for some time, leaving the wearables as little more than supplements and niche devices.

However, there were some clear possibilities for gain in the smart glasses segment; while smart glasses haven't done so well in the consumer market thanks to the privacy concerns and the outright ban that such devices face in many public places, these same factors aren't pulling against smart glasses in the enterprise sector. Many businesses—from healthcare to anything requiring field work—are discovering that smart glasses are a great way to get information to those who need it and also need hands free to do the work at the same time.

Additionally, the Juniper Research report notes that Android is expected to remain the big name in operating systems, though Tizen will play an increasingly large role in things thanks to the release of the Samsung Gear Blink sometime in 2015. Finally, for the most part, development will seem on the slow side, with only a few major achievements showing up, until software-sharing spaces start to arrive on the scene.

The developments currently seen in the smart glasses space are likely to be the developments we see for some time to come. Enterprise use of smart glasses is likely to overtake personal use thanks to deeper pockets at the corporate level and a greatly-reduced need to be concerned about those social factors that impact regular users. With enterprise users looking for a long-term buy, smart glasses that work today are likely to be a great investment for some time to come as the pace of development in the sector is likely to be slow. This actually stands against a study from October from NanoMarkets, which put smartglasses to be around a $3.2 billion market by 2019, though Juniper's projects do stop at 2018.

With smart glasses likely to be more an enterprise tool than a personal one for some time to come, this will likely shape the market in some unusual ways and keep the overall pace of development slim. Only time will tell just what actually happens, but it will still be interesting to see the final outcomes all the same.

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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