Google Glass, competitive device shipments to reach 10m by 2018

Market forecasts from analysts at Juniper Research suggest wearable smart glasses and watches will start to present a significant channel opportunity in the next five years

The market for wearable smart glasses, such as Google Glass, may presently be restricted to Silicon Valley tech ‘gurus’ and the very brave, but a new study from analysts at Juniper Research has uncovered evidence of a latent and growing market.

The firm has just put out a report that suggests that worldwide smart glasses shipments could reach 10m per annum by 2018, up from 87,000 this year.

Juniper predicted that retail prices would begin to decline towards the end of the five-year forecast period, bringing smart glasses in reach of everyday consumers and, lagging a little behind, businesses, with the enterprise and healthcare sectors quick to follow consumer leads.

This may present the channel with a potential sales opportunity, something talked about earlier this autumn at the Canalys Channel Forum in Barcelona.

In the enterprise sector, it suggested, a number of use cases for smart glasses already exist, such as engineering or logistics applications.

Meanwhile, first generation apps such as video documentation and communication will be big in healthcare, although Juniper added that the true potential of wearable devices will only begin to be realised when diagnostics, surgical assistance and monitoring applications are developed and fully tested.

Report author Nitin Bhas argued that despite the forecasts, wearable devices needed to find a role beyond that of complementary devices or second screens.

“These devices … need to incorporate intuitive and user-friendly functionalities and capture the imagination of the general public, making the technology seamless within their daily routine,” he said.

Bhas’ report also noted that while the industry is beginning to acknowledge the potential for wearable computing, it was still divided on what would become the dominant form factor. At the moment the case for smart watches is more advanced, but both face a number of hurdles, particularly around privacy, if they are to achieve truly mass market status.

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