ABI Research expects 2015 to be a big year for smart glasses with unit shipment growth of nearly 150% in 2015, almost of all of which will be in the enterprise and public sector. The market intelligence firm expects over 90% of smart glasses to be sold in to the enterprise or public sector in 2015 e.g., remote assistance, police and military, security, warehouse and barcode scanning, and, in the consumer space for gaming.
“Smart glasses were much hyped in 2014 as a smartphone replacement, largely on the back Google’s Glass product announced in early 2013,” commented ABI Research Senior Practice Director Nick Spencer. “However, 2014 showed the use case for smart glasses is task specific, for example remote assistance, security (facial and number plate recognition), augmented reality, and virtual reality. The Google Glass generalized use case is a primary reason for the changes announced last week.”
Smart glasses will not be the highest growth category in the wearables space; however, with smart watches set for significant consumer adoption at over 300% unit shipment growth in 2015. This is primarily due to the market entry of Apple dominating headlines and sales with near 50% market share forecast in 2015.
“The use case for general-purpose smart glasses in the consumer space is weak, especially at a technical level, where projector quality has some way to go, as does battery life along with RF components and the miniaturization of these elements. Also, at a practical level, most people are not prepared to wear glasses because many simply do not normally need to, and if they do, they need specific lenses. Lastly, many glass wearers have moved to wearing contact lenses. It just seems a retrograde form-factor and a very obtrusive one for the user and general public,” added Spencer. Longer term, ABI Research believes a consumer wearable device needs to be far more subtle, with smart watches and, even better, wireless smart ear buds being a good example.