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Wearables

The eyes have it

The mass launch of smart glasses is likely to be met by skepticism and delight, as is customary with the launch of each new digital form factor. And the first models of smart glasses are likely to appeal to, and be purchased by, a niche. But at a global level the volume of early adopters in 2014 may well number in the millions, with demand increasing to the tens of millions by 2016 and surpassing 100 million by 2020.

Executive summary

Wearable computing represents a tantalizing and lucrative market that is presently characterized by a degree of uncertainty.

A significant grey area is regulation, which has a major bearing on the potential market size. For example, there may be questions about the usage of smart glasses, which potentially enable anything said or seen by a smart glasses user to be captured, shared and archived.

The capability of wearable devices is likely to improve continually, but expectations should be set carefully. There are fundamental constraints of battery technology, acceptable weight and bulk of wearable devices. This means that some notions, such as full-screen augmented reality built into a regular pair of sun glasses, priced at $500 and with integrated 4G, is many years off – and may never be realized.

Wearables: the eyes have it
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