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REPORT # Nano-747 PUBLISHED September 25, 2014
Smart Glasses: Component and Technology Markets: 2014
  • Glass and Glazing
  • Smart Technology

    Smart Glasses are spectacles embodying the wearable computing concept and either (1) allowing people to see better or (2) acting as an enabling technology for augmented reality (AR). Although currently at an early stage of development, smart glasses have been touted as the next stage of mobile communications – a platform that could eventually replace smartphones. Although Google Glass is currently the poster child for smart glasses at the present time, there may be as many as 30 firms offering smart glasses – or planning to do so – at the present time. 

    These products differ significantly in their price points and in intended end-user markets. They also embody very different optical technologies, human-computer interfaces and system capabilities.  As a result, NanoMarkets believes that the surge of interest in smart glasses will lead to new business opportunities in the optical components, sensor and semiconductor sectors.  While smart glasses face many challenges as commercial products, their success could mean billions of dollars in new revenues for components and sub-systems makers.

    Many of the new technologies are being developed by the smart glass firms themselves, but other specialist firms are emerging to provide specialized optical subsystems. NanoMarkets believes, that as the smart glasses business matures opportunities for technology and components start ups – some of them will grow to be large businesses, others will fall by the wayside. 

    The objective of this report is to assess the key technologies that will be used in smart glasses and to forecasts their commercial potential over the next eight years.  The report also predicts who the leading firms will be in this emerging space and how their product/market strategies are evolving.

    The report builds on the NanoMarkets’ team in the optical components, sensor and display sectors, where NanoMarkets and its sister companies have been providing industry analysis for many years.  The coverage in this report begins with an assessment of the various optical subsystems that are being deployed in smart glasses and then discusses how smart glasses technology and the latest human-computer interfaces can come together to create viable businesses.  Finally, the report takes a look at how smart glasses can generate significant new demand for electronic components and semiconductor chips.

    We think this report will be important to business development and marketing executives in the optical component, sensor and semiconductor industries, as well as for smart glass firms themselves.

    In fact, while some smart glasses, are completely functional as standalone products, most manufacturers recommend synchronization with cellular handsets thereby enabling enhanced functionality such as access to text messages, etc.  Competition in this space is often through embedded technology such as voice commands, sophistication and ubiquity of cameras and activity tracking, etc.


    Executive Summary
    E.1 Why Smart Glasses Are Exciting for Technology Providers
    E.1.1 Market Drivers for Smart Glasses:  Risky Business
    E.2 Assessment of Technology and Component Opportunities in the Smart Glasses Space
    E.2.1 Optical Components and Subsystems
    E.2.2 Display Industry Implications
    E.2.3 Human-Computer Interface Developments
    E.2.4 Sensor Industry
    E.2.5 Semiconductor Industry, Sensor Fusion and Smart Glasses
    E.3 Eight Likely Influential OEMs and Technology Suppliers in the Smart Glasses Sector
    E.3.1 Epson
    E.3.2 Google
    E.3.3 Himax
    E.3.4 Kopin
    E.3.5 Microsoft
    E.3.6 Samsung
    E.3.7 Sony
    E.3.8 Thalmic Labs
    E.3.9 Vuzix  (United States)
    E.4 Summary of Eight-Year Forecasts of Smart Glasses Components and Subsystems

    Chapter One:  Introduction
    1.1 Background to this Report
    1.1.1 Optical Subsystems:  First in the Value Chain
    1.1.2 Sensors for Smart Glasses:  Volume Opportunity and Beyond
    1.2 Objective and Scope of this Report
    1.3 Methodology of this Report
    1.4 Plan of this Report

    Chapter Two:  Market Requirements:  Optical Technologies, Components and Subsystems for Smart Glasses
    2.1 Market Expectations and Forecasts for the Smart Glasses Market
    2.2 Market and Design Requirements for Smart Glasses
    2.3 Optical Alternatives for Smart Glasses:  Combiners/Recombiners
    2.3.1 Types/Classifications of Combiners for Smart Glasses
    2.3.2 Manufacturing Considerations for Optical Subsystems used in Smart Glasses
    2.4 Optical Subsystems
    2.4.1 Reflective Lightguides:  Google, Epson and Optinvent
    2.5 Curved Mirror:  Vuzix, Olympus and Laster
    2.6 Diffractive Waveguides:  Vuzix
    2.6.1 Inherent Problems with Diffractive Waveguides
    2.7 Holograms:  Sony and Konica
    2.7.1 The Need for Three Waveguides
    2.8 Polarized Waveguide:  Lumus
    2.9 Switchable Waveguides
    2.10 Virtual Retinal Displays
    2.11 Notes on Camera and Display Technology for Smart Glasses
    2.12 Eight-Year Forecast of Optical Technologies
    2.13 Key Points from this Chapter

    Chapter Three: Human-Computer Interfaces for Smart Glasses
    3.1 HCI Options for Smart Glasses
    3.2 Touch-based HCIs in Smart Glasses:  Now but Not the Future
    3.2.1 Touch-based HCIs in Smart Glasses:  Eight-Year Forecast
    3.3 Voice Recognition:  A Natural Interface
    3.3.1 A Note of Speech-Text Conversion
    3.3.2 Voice-based HCIs in Smart Glasses:  Eight-Year Forecast
    3.4 Gesture Recognition
    3.4.1 Improvements Needed Before Gestural Recognition Can Succeed in Smart Glasses
    3.4.2 Moving Forward With Gestural Control
    3.4.3 Gestural Recognition HCIs in Smart Glasses:  Eight-Year Forecast
    3.5 Brain-computer Interfaces
    3.5.1 BCIs in Smart Glasses:  Eight-Year Forecast
    3.6 Eight-Year Forecast of Human-Computer Interfaces and Related Components for Smart Glasses
    3.7 Key Points from this Chapter

    Chapter Four:  Major Smart Glasses Vendors and Subsystems Makers:  Technology and Product Strategies
    4.1 Introduction
    4.2 APX Labs (United States)
    4.2.1 Impact on Smart Glasses Technology:  APX’s Hardware Platforms
    4.2.2 The View from APX on HCIs
    4.2.3 APX on the Future of Smart Glasses
    4.3 Atheer Labs (United States)
    4.3.1 Future of Smart Consumer Glasses
    4.3.2 Atheer and Product Design Strategy
    4.4 Brilliant Labs (Japan)
    4.4.1 Product Plans:  Mirama One
    4.4.2 Mirama Prototypes and Development Kits
    4.5 BuBBles Lab (Romania)
    4.6 Canon (Japan)
    4.6.1 Technology Deployed
    4.7 Epson (Japan)
    4.7.1 Anticipated Technology Improvements
    4.8 EyeTap (Canada)
    4.9 GlassUp  (Italy)
    4.9.1 Financing Issues
    4.10 Google (United States)
    4.10.1 Current and Future Display Technologies
    4.10.2 Building a Google Glass Ecosystem
    4.11 Innovega (United States)
    4.11.1 Innovega’s Contact Lens Technology
    4.11.2 Future Plans and Strategies
    4.12 Konica Minolta (Japan)
    4.13 LaForge Optical (United States)
    4.13.1 Icis Product Evolution
    4.13.2 Financing of La Forge
    4.14 Kopin (United States)
    4.14.1 Golden-I HMD
    4.14.2 Pupil
    4.15 Laster Technologies (France)
    4.16 Lumus (Israel)
    4.16.1 Technology
    4.16.2 DK-40 Development Kit
    4.16.3 PD-18 Commercial/Industry Display Module
    4.17 Luxottica (Italy)
    4.17.1 Partnership with Google
    4.17.2 Partnership with Recon
    4.18 Meta (United States)
    4.18.1 Product Development
    4.19 Microsoft (United States)
    4.20 Optinvent (France)
    4.20.1 Clear Vu and ORA
    4.21 Pivothead (United States)
    4.21.1 SMART Glasses
    4.22 Recon Instruments (Canada)
    4.22.1 Snow
    4.22.2 Jet
    4.23 Samsung (Korea)
    4.23.1 Product Design
    4.24 SixthSense (United States)
    4.24.1 SixthSense Technology
    4.25 Sony (Japan)
    4.25.1 SmartEyeglass
    4.26 Technical Illusions (United States)
    4.26.1 castAR
    4.27 Thalmic Labs (Canada)
    4.27.1 Myo
    4.27.2 Use of Myo with Smart Glasses
    4.28 Vergence Labs (United States)
    4.28.1 Epiphany Eyewear Technology and Capabilities
    4.29 Vuzix  (United States)
    4.29.1 Investment and Partnerships
    4.29.2 Vuzix Product Line and Technology Profile
    4.30 WeON (Spain)
    4.31 XOEye (United States)
    4.31.1  XOne
    Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this Report
    About the Author

    List of Exhibits 

    Exhibit E-1: Smart Glasses Are Distinct Product Category    
    Exhibit E-2: Alternative Scenarios for Smart Glasses Market    
    Exhibit E-3: Optical Subsystem Technologies for Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit E-4: Human-Computer Interface Opportunities for Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit E-5: Summary of Eight-Year Market Forecast for Optical Subsystem Technologies Used in Smart Glasses ($ Millions)    
    Exhibit E-6: Summary of Eight-Year Market Forecasts for Human-Computer Interface Technologies Used in Smart Glasses ($ Millions)    
    Exhibit 1-1: Two Types of Opportunity for Components and Subsystems Makers in the Smart Glasses Space    
    Exhibit 2-1: Eight-Year Forecast of Total Smart Glasses Market    
    Exhibit 2-2: Technical and Market Requirements for Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 2-3: Advantages and Disadvantages of Reflective Lightguide Technology for Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 2-4: Expected Evolution of the Gestural Control Business    
    Exhibit 2-5: Eight-Year Forecast of Market Share by Optical Technology for Smart Glasses,Percent Share of the Market    
    Exhibit 2-6: Eight-Year Forecast of Optical Technology Costs for Smart Glasses ($)
    Exhibit 2-7: Eight-Year Forecast of Optical Technology Markets for Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 3-1: Eight-Year Forecast of Touch Panels Used in Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 3-2: Eight-Year Forecast of Voice Recognition Used in Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 3-3: Eight-Year Forecast of Speech-Text Conversion Used in Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 3-4: Approaches to Tracking Motion and Gestures    
    Exhibit 3-5: Selected Firms Developing Gestural Control for Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 3-6: Eight-Year Forecast of Eye Tracking and Other Gestural Recognition Used in Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 3-7: Eight-Year Forecast of BCIs Used in Smart Glasses    
    Exhibit 3-8: Summary of Eight-Year Market Forecasts for Human-Computer Interface Technologies Used in Smart Glasses ($ Millions)    
    Exhibit 4-1: Summary of Components and Suppliers Used by Epson Moverio BT-200    
    Exhibit 4-2: Summary of Components and Suppliers Used by Google Glass    
    Exhibit 4-3:  Microsoft Chronology in the Smart Glasses Market    
    Exhibit 4-4: Smart Glasses Developments at Samsung    
    Exhibit 4-5: Technology Profile of the Sony SmartEyeglass    
    Exhibit 4-6: Technology Profile of the Vuzix M


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