IHS: Expect 9.4 million 'smart' glasses units shipped by 2016

IHS: Expect 9.4 million 'smart' glasses units shipped by 2016

Summary: Are "smart" glasses the new wave of mobile? Based on the fervor around Google Glass, IHS analysts seem to think so.


The pending launch of "smart" glasses as a new mobile category might not just be reserved for Google Glass.

See also: Google reconfirms 2013 release plans (or hopes) for Glass

IHS iSuppli just published a new report with a forecast of approximately 9.4 million units of these fancy spectacles shipping between 2012 to 2016.

That time frame might seem odd considering we really haven't seen much of this category on the market yet aside from the introduction of Glass at Google I/O last June combined with the recent first wave of prototypes headed to some developers now.

While acknowledging that this segment depends upon the success or failure of Google Glass, analysts seem to be counting on strong consumer interest anyway.

Theo Ahadome, a senior analyst at IHS, remarked in the report that the amount of apps (and therefore, use cases) supported by smart glasses that will be the make-or-break factor -- at least in the eyes of consumers.

In fact, the hardware is much less relevant to the growth of Google Glass than for any other personal communications device in recent history. This is because the utility of Google Glass is not readily apparent, so everything will depend on the appeal of the apps. This is why the smart glass market makes sense for a software-oriented organization like Google, despite the company’s limited previous success in developing hardware. Google is betting the house that developers will produce some compelling applications for Glass.

Ahadome continued, suggesting that some potential use cases could include "live updates for travel, location reviews and recommendations, nutritional information and matching personal preferences, and previous encounters to aid decision making.."

However, if Glass ends up just being a "wearable camera" as demonstrated during the I/O unveiling last year, then analysts would lower their forecast significantly to just one million units shipped over the course of four years.

But considering there have already been some demos of Glass-optimized apps for Gmail, The New York Times, Evernote, and more, it already looks like Google is well on its way to building a device that is more than just a pair of fancy specs with a camera attached.

Topics: Mobility, Google, Hardware, Smartphones, Tech Industry

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  • Will women want it?

    That's the real multi-billion dollar question here. If it only appeals to techie guys and boys, it might sell ok, but for the truly big, big iPod, iPhone, iPad-type new market category defining numbers, you have to wait and see how well this product might appeal to the girls. Personally, I don't see it taking off.
    • If approached the right way, smart glasses could be successful

      If he whole video / audio recording, picture taking capabilities people are freaking out over are banned, the glasses form factor could essentially be used as a peripheral for computer devices like PCs, smartphones, tablets, and motor vehicles. The form factor essentially could be used as a heads up display for augmented reality apps which are configured on computer devices, and run on the glasses. E.g. the a pair of glasses could come with a car, and the touch screen display in the car could be used to configure the car for night driving. Sensors on the car could be used to overlay a dynamic graphic of the road, to aid in driving. Icy / slippery sections of the road could be depicted graphically through the glasses. The touch screen in the car could at a later point be used to configure the glasses to overlay gas station, motel, etc. locations.

      In a doctor's office, a tablet could be used to overlay test images of a patient, which could be viewed by a doctor, as he examines the patient with the glasses on. Tourists at a zoo, could download an app to their smartphones, which is used to configure their smart glasses to see additional information about the animals at which they are looking, as they move around the facility.

      Generally, apps on computer devices could be used to configure smart glasses for different uses and scenarios. Taps and other gestures made by a user's fingers on the image overlay he is viewing, could be used to used to zoom in and out, and make simple manipulations of the image; while the apps on the server computer device (smartphone, PC, etc.) he is using, could be used to make more sophisticated manipulations of the image, and do a richer examination of certain information he is interested in.
      P. Douglas
      • All far better uses

        than the lifelogging that seems to be the focus for them. I like to 'video' life passing by and have exhibited work based on that but to walk around collecting video throughout your day - I just don't see why anyone could be bothered. Surely people won't be watching it all back and editing that level of video will quickly get boring for most people.
        Little Old Man
        • You don't need to watch it all back...

          You just need to be able to extract important things.
  • Augmented reality

    I believe that's is going to be big, mainly for entertainment.
    But maybe it's yet too soon...
  • Hearing Aid App Would Be Really Useful

    A device that could provide on-the-fly subtitles for whoever the wearer was talking to would be eagerly snapped up by the hard-of-hearing crowd.