Google may have essentially pulled the plug on any consumer ambitions it had for Google Glass, but while smart glasses are still some way from becoming a common sight on the high street or in hipster coffee bars, they could soon become the norm in the office.
ABI Research believes that 2015 is going to be the year that enterprise embraces smart glasses and is forecasting a 150% increase in device shipments over the next 12 months.
Over the last 12 months, what has come into clear focus is that smart glasses are brilliant for a number of very specific uses such as remote assistance and hands-free remote working, augmented reality and security. Although Google decided to put its consumer Google Glass plans on hold earlier this month, what did come out of the project were a host of ingenious business uses for the headset including in surgical procedures and healthcare management.
"The use case for general-purpose smart glasses in the consumer space is weak, especially at a technical level, where projector quality has some way to go, as does battery life along with RF components and the miniaturization of these elements. Also, at a practical level, most people are not prepared to wear glasses because many simply do not normally need to, and if they do, they need specific lenses. Lastly, many glass wearers have moved to wearing contact lenses. It just seems a retrograde form-factor and a very obtrusive one for the user and general public," commented ABI Research Senior Practice Director Nick Spencer.
All of which is why 90% of all smart glasses shipments in 2015 will be for business, not consumer use. Instead, 2015 will be the year when the smartwatch goes global.
ABI is forecasting a 300% increase in smartwatch shipments over 2015 and believes as much as 50% of the market will be taken up by the Apple Watch, which isn't expected to go on sale until March.