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Discreet smart wearables predicted for popularity by 2017

Posted: 15 Dec 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Gartner? smart wearable? head-mounted display? smartglass? virtual reality?

According to the latest forecast from Gartner Inc., the increasingly evolving smart wearables market will generate a 30 per cent chunk entirely held by unobtrusive smart devices by 2017.

"Already, there are some interesting developments at the prototype stage that could pave the way for consumer wearables to blend seamlessly into their surroundings," said Annette Zimmermann, research director at Gartner. "Smart contact lenses are one type in development. Another interesting wearable that is emerging is smart jewellery. There are around a dozen crowdfunded projects competing right now in this area, with sensors built into jewellery for communication alerts and emergency alarms. Obtrusive wearables already on the market, like smart glasses, are likely to develop new designs that disguise their technological components completely."

According to Gartner, by 2018, more than 25 million head-mounted displays (HMDs) will have been sold as immersive devices and virtual worlds will have transitioned from the fringe to the mainstream.

Interest in HMD devices, which power virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and other smartglass apps, will be such that, by 2018, the technology behind them will be used in a variety of consumer and business scenarios. "HMDs are more popular in 2014 than at any point in the past," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner. "Prior to 2014, HMDs were mainly found in specialty applications, such as industrial design or military training and simulation, where HMD technology is well-developed. However, even with a long history of HMD development, broad adoption in the consumer market has yet to take hold. That situation will change as soon as HMDs are offered as stylish, consumer-grade video eyeglasses. This will eventually drive adoption when paired with compelling virtual worlds and augmented real-world content."

HMD technology set for wider consumer appeal

There are so many notable products in development that, by 2018, this era will be looked on as one in which the first wave of HMD devices hit the market. However, quelling some of the initial enthusiasm are the significant user experience barriers, including lack of mature software services and privacy concerns. HMD technology is expected to have a different and slower trajectory over the next few years compared with the fast adoption that was seen with the introduction of smartphones. This is certain to accelerate when users increasingly experience compelling, immersive worlds offered by well-made VR and AR apps through their headsets.

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