Future for Eyewear is Bright (If Enterprise Requirements Can be Met)
The topic of hands-free displays or eyewear for Augmented Reality was popular at InsideAR 2014. It was discussed using many names (e.g., smart glasses, eyewear and HMD, to mention a few) and shown at many of the exhibition stands. On the stage, there were no less than six presentations focused entirely on hands-free displays. Even those speakers not focused on displays mentioned the opportunities they would offer once customer requirements were met.
New Report Forecasts Four Waves
During his InsideAR remarks, Ori Inbar of AugmenedReality.org described the latest addition to an already significant body of market research on the topic of hands-free AR displays. As Ori mentioned in his preface, the other reports to date do not agree on the size of the market, the terminology or how to seize the opportunities they will offer. It is not clear if or how this report compares or addresses the uncertainty.
Entitled simply “Smart Glasses Report,” Ori’s new report compiles findings from tests and interviews conducted with companies providing products and components. The scope does not include devices designed for use with Virtual Reality content.
The purpose of the report is to answer two burning questions: Will smart glasses ever come into their own? And when will this happen? To the first question, the answer is that those contributing to the report felt it was inevitable. As to the second question, it depends.
Ori predicts there will be four waves of technology:
- Technology enthusiasts: 10 models of glasses will sell 1 million units within the next year or two
- Initial winners will emerge and sell a total of 10 million units by 2016
- The early majority market will be composed of fewer competitors and will sell 50-100 million and reach critical mass by 2018
- Mainstream adoption will occur between 2019 and 2023 with the shipment of one billion units
Business opportunities will depend on the wave and type of company. Ori predicts that by 2020, there will be one 800 pound gorilla and a few challengers. He also predicts that prior to, and even during 2016, most sales of eyewear will be for enterprise use.
That depends on those devices meeting the requirements of the enterprise customers.
Enterprise Requirements for Head-mounted Displays
In his InsideAR 2014 speech, Dr. Werner Schreiber of Volkswagen provided a very detailed analysis of the requirements that head-mounted display vendors need to meet if they are to achieve traction in enterprise. To set the stage for his analysis, Schreiber began by saying that AR is not going to be popular in production processes until head-mounted displays meet certain requirements. In other words, the use of tablets and smartphones is just not convenient when the tasks people are doing require both hands.
One of the most important requirements described (in fact the first of at least 10) is power consumption. The devices will need to begin with a battery life of at least 10 hours. Another requirement was field of view (FOV). In Schreiber’s analysis, the FOV must be at least 130 degrees, or a moving FOV that is 50 degrees.
Of course, support for corrective lenses is not negotiable nor are systems that minimize wiring. If there must be wiring, it needs to include easy connectors both at the display and other power or computing devices that may be needed.
If the hardware can be designed to meet the minimum requirements, there remain significant software challenges. Schreiber’s ideal platform would permit automatic:
- Creation of computer data
- Removal of unused details
- Creation of workflow
- Consideration of possible collisions
- Selection of necessary application tools and materials
- Publishing of user-generated annotations into the experience
That is a lot of requirements to meet before 2016.
Do you have a product or strategy that will address these needs? Let us know about your product or opinions on these requirements.