Juniper: smart glasses shipments to reach 10 million by 2018

Apple is considering expanding into digital/smart glasses, “a risky but potentially lucrative area of wearable computing,” according to Bloomberg, quoting unnamed “people familiar with the matter.” And Juniper Research (www.junipersearch.com) probably thinks Apple should look into “iGlasses” instead. New findings from the hi-tech research group that global smart glasses’ shipments will reach 10 million per annum by 2018, compared to an estimated 87,000 in 2014.

Juniper Research notes that as the retail price for smart glasses decline towards the end of the forecast period, the adoption level amongst consumers will significantly increase.The research group argues that in order for wearable devices such as smart glasses to achieve critical mass, they need to be much more than complementary devices or secondary screens. 

"These devices would need to incorporate intuitive and user-friendly functionalities and capture the imagination of the general public making the technology seamless within their daily routine," says Juniper Research's Nitin Bhas.

While the industry acknowledges the future for wearable computing, it's divided on the form factor for such devices. While some consider smart watches to be more socially and naturally accepted, others promote the potential use cases for smart glasses. However, a number of hurdles such as privacy exists for smart wearable devices to overcome for mass acceptance.

The report from Juniper found that shipments of smart glasses will be driven primarily by the consumer sector, followed by the enterprise and healthcare sectors. First generation applications such as video documentation and communication will be initially used in the healthcare sector, but the true potential of smart glasses will begin to be realized when diagnostic reference, surgical assistance and monitoring can be applied, according to the research group. Long term growth will be achievable but regulatory approval and field trials will potentially impact timescales.

In the enterprise sector, a number of use cases for smart glasses exists, ranging from engineering to logistics applications. App developers are currently figuring out custom enterprise use cases for developing apps for smart glasses. However, the largest opportunity will be in the consumer sector with the rate of adoption largely dependent on the market availability of attractive hardware and apps.