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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

More than 2 Million Smart Glasses will Ship in 2014

Smart wearable devices were characterized as 'cool' technology by the introduction of the Google Glass collection, but commercial success will come slowly to this nascent product category. Granted, wearable technology will be defined by the diversity of creative new products -- yet it's likely that only the devices with a crystal clear use-case will succeed in the marketplace.

ABI Research forecasts the wearable device sales volumes in 2014 will come from healthcare and sports and activity trackers. Meanwhile, the commercial launch of several smart glass products, including Google Glass, will continue to drive interest in the wearable space. But it won't be a significant commercial success in 2014.

"The next twelve months will be a critical period for the acceptance and adoption of wearable devices," says Joshua Flood, senior analyst at ABI Research.

Healthcare and sports related devices are conceptually mass-market products. However, wearable devices like smart watches need to overcome some critical obstacles. Aesthetic design, more meaningful and compelling use cases, battery life and lower price points are the main inhibitors, according to ABI's assessment.

How vendors approach these significant challenges to market development -- and their respective solutions -- will affect the wearable market far in the future.

Chipset vendors, such as ARM, are beginning to pave the way with interesting wearable reference designs that will allow non-technology OEMs and designer brands to quickly jump upon the wearable device bandwagon and bring diverse, innovative, unique and stylish solutions to market.

While smart glasses could become the starting point that guides consumers away from today's touchscreen smartphones to eyewear devices using a voice interface, ABI believes that pricing, battery life and style will all play crucial roles for the attainment of market traction.

Due to these limitations, the enterprise sector will be the initial target for smart glasses -- before they are ready for consumer mass-market adoption. ABI Research expects more than two million smart glasses will be shipped in 2014 and the category is forecast to grow rapidly from 2015 onward.

What will be the key applications drivers? Mobile enabling technologies -- such as augmented reality -- will play a vital part in enhancing smart glass capabilities.

Smart glasses and smart watches will account for a small portion of the wearable device market in 2014. Medical, wellness and sports and activity wearable devices will provide the bulk of wearable device shipments this year.

Activity trackers will continue to be the most popular wearable device as people carefully monitor their activity levels and energy output. Concerns around weight management and even obesity are the prime drivers behind this wearable device type.

Furthermore, the collection and analysis of the captured personal performance data through associated websites and their communities is also a crucial element in building out the use-case scenario.