After The Lull, Smart Glasses Poised For Growth

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A new Juniper Research study shows that over 12 million consumer smart glasses will ship in 2020, growing from less than a million devices shipped in 2016.Juniper expects that the majority of growth will occur after 2017, noting that the current market is 15 months behind previous expectations due to the withdrawal of Google Glass in 2015.

However, the market will be reinvigorated by 2017, according to Juniper, as Microsoft’s HoloLens becomes generally available, with other devices from vendors including ODG, Sony, Meta, and potentially Magic Leap, moving beyond being developer-only into general availability.

While smart glasses already provide a range of niche consumer use cases, along with benefits across many workplaces, Juniper notes that “uncertainty around how the devices would be used by consumers has held back the market’s development”.

“While Google Glass encouraged smart glasses users to take their devices everywhere, Juniper believes that the key to the consumer smart glasses segment will be found in home-based use cases, in much the same way that consumer tablets are primarily used indoors, rather than taken everywhere,” Juniper states.

“This was a key part of the Atheer One’s appeal in 2014, but when that device got shelved, so did the advent of successful consumer smart glasses.”

Smart glasses may not have taken off at a consumer level, however Juniper notes that their benefits are now being realised in many workplaces, with vendors such as Vuzix, Atheer and Google focusing on enterprise use.

“Hands-free computing and video transmission can be a huge productivity booster in many workplaces now, while it’s not a huge draw for consumers,” research author James Moar observed.

“It will take the development of devices that give unique vision-based capabilities, that can’t be replicated by a smartphone, for a truly worthwhile consumer use case for smart glasses to emerge.”

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