Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO, keynote speaker at the Facebook F8 Developer Conference on April 18, 2017 at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California.
Big tech companies like Apple, Google by Alphabet, and Microsoft have struggled to create stylish smart glasses that consumers will love to adopt. However, 2021 will take another year before these devices will no longer be massively adopted.
With the launch of Facebook smart glasses earlier this summer, tech companies are getting a step closer, but widespread consumer interest is five to ten years away, said Tuong Nguyen, lead analyst at technology consultancy Gartner. And some tech CEOS agree. Snap CEO Evan Spiegel speculated it would be at least 10 years for consumers to start using smart glasses during the 2019 TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco.
A recent Gartner report predicts significant growth in the wearable device market. This not only includes smart glasses, but also watches and virtual reality headsets. Gadgets like the Apple Watch have already been a great success. Gartner predicts that wearables will hit $ 109 billion by 2024, with watches and virtual reality headsets for gaming growing at average annual growth rates of 20% and 22%, respectively.
For smart glasses, the lag in mass market adoption is due to slow advances in user-friendly designs, fashionable appearances and user-friendly content, Nguyen said. Many products remain bulky, making it difficult for consumers looking to stay fashionable on the go, while slow connectivity issues keep those looking for efficiency. Organizations also need to solve power issues such as: B. whether they are connected to a computer or battery operated.
However, the latest iterations of smart glasses are showing progress. Last week, Vuzix unveiled a fashionable product at the Consumer Electronics Show 2021 that is expected to hit the market this summer. It will have speakers, noise-canceling microphones, and options for WiFi and data.
Priced at $ 1,000, the new $ 1,000 Vuzix smart glasses are expected to hit the market in mid-2021, marking the company’s first foray into the consumer space of a corporate market for this growing niche of wearables.
The Rochester-based company, which has a long history of developing smart eyewear products for corporate customers, is making its first major foray into the consumer market. In 2015, Intel Corp. invested nearly $ 25 million in a 30 percent interest in the company.
Lenovo presented its ThinkReality A3 smart glasses at CES, which can be connected to a PC and some Motorola devices. With these smart glasses, users can project multiple virtual screens at the same time and have an additional speaker and microphone for interacting with colleagues or colleagues.
This product niche also offers a number of day-to-day benefits that will multiply as development progresses. Smart glasses can be used for virtual shopping, figuring out what furniture will fit in homes, and could one day completely replace screens, said Rick Kowalski, director of industry analysis and business intelligence at the Consumer Technology Association.
For years, IKEA has been playing around using Microsoft’s HoloLens to enable customers to plan a kitchen, bathroom or room redesign, while Lowe implemented a pilot program in several stores in 2016. “The value they bring is way beyond what they can think of now,” said Kowalski.
An annoying story
Smart glasses originally launched back in 2012, but most have relied on corporate customers with few targeting consumers temporarily.
In 2013, Google released the first prototype of the Google Glass to a select group of consumers before going public in May 2014. With a retail price of $ 1,500 per pair, the product was equivalent to few consumer prices and came under fire for potential privacy issues related to the associated product; The consumer model was discontinued in 2015 and the company found a development line for storage and manufacturing purposes.
The latest iteration for business was introduced in 2019. The model costs $ 999 and comes with voice-activated applications that can be managed from a mobile device.
Google Glass Enterprise Edition 2
Despite slow integration into the consumer market, Covid-19 and the increase in remote working could accelerate the integration of smart glasses in health, medicine and services. Vuzix recently announced that it is partnering with a medical technology company to support remote maintenance during the pandemic.
Microsoft also uses smart glasses in the defense sector. First available to consumers in 2019, the HoloLens glasses can overlay images and display computer programs. In 2019, the company won a $ 479 million contract to deploy 100,000 prototypes with the U.S. military in hopes of improving soldier effectiveness. This step was heavily criticized by the employees.
The decision caused some concern among employees, who have been more vocal in various technology areas in recent years as activists questioned some uses of their own technology. However, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, later defended the decision in an interview with CNN Business, citing the company “would not withhold technologies that democracies have chosen to protect the freedoms we enjoy”.
In 2016, Snap entered the smart glasses market with Spectacles, a wearable product that allowed users to record video to sync with their phones. However, as of 2017, multiple media outlets reported that Snapchat’s developer largely overestimated demand, with less than half of buyers continuing to use the product within a month of purchase, Business Insider’s internal company data suggested. While the most recent iteration has been largely unsuccessful with consumers, it offers 3D capabilities and costs $ 380, a fraction of the price of the competition.
During the company’s IPO in New York on March 2, 2017, a person holds Snap Inc. Snapchat glasses on the trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE).
Michael Nagle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
The price of most smart glasses is still high, with many models starting at $ 2,500. The new Vuzix glasses are expected to retail for $ 1,000. Lenovo has not yet set detailed prices for its ThinkReality A3 smart glasses. Offering consumer-friendly prices for the products is one way of accelerating the rollout. But businesses also need to ensure that smart glasses are accompanied by easy-to-use apps and content libraries that keep consumers busy.
Without these massive content libraries published along with smart glasses, consumers are less likely to take advantage of the product, said Allan Cook, managing partner at Deloitte who leads the digital reality practice.
“People find it strange wearing AR or smart glasses,” he said. “There have been market blockades in the past, but we will see a dramatic increase in 2021.”
Some experts thought 2020 would be “the year” of the headsets due to the pandemic, but it has not, and even in 2021, although there will be growth, it will be on a low base and more of it in the corporate market continue to a Deloitte analysis. Total AR and VR headsets, software and services spend, including consumer purchases, rose to $ 12 billion worldwide in 2020. This represents a 50% increase over 2019, but is below the pre-pandemic forecast growth rate of almost 80%. As the pandemic accelerates the opportunity to demonstrate their value, digital reality headsets may continue to gain ground after the pandemic ends due to a number of other benefits such as lower costs, increased safety, and better learner retention. However, these benefits are still showing more. In Deloitte’s view, they appeal to and accept corporate customers rather than consumers.
Big Tech’s vision of the future
As tech companies push for greater consumer adoption, several tech giants outside of Google and Microsoft have announced plans for their own smart glass creations, which are expected to hit the market over the next few years.
Facebook plans to release its smart glasses developed with Luxottica’s Ray-Ban. The social media giant relies on the sunglass brand’s popular style to offer a fashionable model that appeals to skeptical customers. Also in 2019, CNBC previously reported that the company was working on an artificial intelligence companion voice assistant to take on Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri.
“I can’t go into all of the product details just yet, but they’re really the next step on the road to augmented reality glasses,” said CEO Mark Zuckerberg during a live stream from Facebook Connect in September in which the company annually virtual reality Presents products.
At the same time, the company is working on Project Aria, an initiative that will distribute devices to employees in order to collect video, audio and location data and ultimately to help the company research and develop its smart glasses. Facebook first announced its Luxottica partnership in 2019.
According to reports, Apple is working on its own AR glasses that will allow users to view maps and text messages and control Siri, which is not expected to hit the market until 2023 at the earliest. The development of the product is secret – as is all of Apple’s research and development that the company never commented on. An augmented virtual reality headset similar to Facebook’s Oculus Rift is also reportedly in the works.
Wall Street is excited for an Apple reveal. Wedbush analyst Dan Ives put Apple Glasses on his wishlist for 2021 and predicts that the company’s first augmented reality glasses – the result of years of development in Cupertino’s laboratories – will be unveiled at the company’s WWDC 2021 developer conference, which is expected to take place in June.
Amazon has not announced any plans for a comprehensive augmented reality competitor, but is currently offering the Echo Frames, glasses with speakers and built-in Amazon voice assistant.
Jio, an India-based tech company backed by both Google and Facebook, announced last year Jio Glass, a mixed reality headset that connects to the internet using a cable connected to a smartphone. Although the company, which is part of India’s largest conglomerate Reliance Industries, has not yet announced a price, they have hinted that the product will work with 25+ applications and could benefit remote working and schooling.