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Smart Glasses: Component and Technology Markets: 2014

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

Optical and Sensor Components for Smart Glasses to Reach $3.2 Billion by 2019 Says New NanoMarkets Report

Glen Allen, Virginia:  If smart glasses, such as Google “Glass” emerge as a mass market item – perhaps replacing smart phones as the main mobile computing and communications platform over the next decade -- they will generate $3.2 billion in new business revenues for the makers of sensors, lightguides, microdisplays and micromirrors.  So says a new report from NanoMarkets.  The report, "Smart Glasses:  Component and Technology Markets -- 2014” notes that smart glasses technology is at an early stage of development and will create opportunities for both novel optical subsystems such as virtual retinal displays (VRDs) and advanced human-computer interfaces such as eye-tracking and brain-computer interfaces (BCIs).
About the Report
This report examines the components and subsystems markets for smart glasses, focusing on the markets for both the core optical subsystems (curved mirrors, diffractive, holographic, polarized optics, reflective, switchable waveguides, and VRDs) and key human-computer interfaces (touch, voice recognition, gesture recognition, speech-text conversion, eye-tracking and BCI)
Eight-year forecasts in revenue and volume terms are included for each of these components and subsystems.  The report also discusses the strategies of the firms involved in supplying these parts for smart glasses over the next decade as well as the component requirements of the leading OEMs.  Companies covered in this report include: Apple, APX, Atheer, Augmedix, BCInet, Brilliant Service, BuBBles, Canon, Chirp Microsystems, Elliptic Labs, Emotiv Systems, Epson, Eye Tribe, EyeSight, EyeTap, Foxconn, Freescale, GlassUp, Google, Guger, Himax, Hitachi, Innovega, Interactive Productline, Invensense, JVC, Konica Minolta, Kopin, LaForge Optical, Laster, Lenovo, LG, Lumus, Luxottica, Maui Jim, Meta, Metaio, Microchip Technologies, Microsoft, Mind Solutions, Neonode, NeuroSky, Nokia, Novartis, Olympus, Optinvent, OrCam, Pivothead, QD Laser, Quantum Interface, Recon, Rochester Optical, Samsung, SBG Labs, SixthSense, SmartEyeglass, Starlab, Synaptics, Technical Illusions, Telekom Innovation, Texas Instruments, Thalmic Labs, Tobii, Vergence Labs, Vuzix, WeON, Wikitude, XOEye and Zeal Optics
From the Report
The market for optical subsystems (comprising mirrors, lightguides and microdisplays) for smart glasses will reach $1.9 billion by 2019. NanoMarkets notes there are considerable opportunities for improving on today’s systems which often distort or lose light and can result in overly large and unattractive smart glasses.  In particular, there is a trend towards thinner lightguides and smaller components with which smart glasses can more closely resemble a pair of regular spectacles.  Another design strategy for smart glasses that will make them more natural will be the inclusion of VRDs.  However, VRDs continue to suffer from an eye box that is so small that eyes tend to lose the picture.  As a result, NanoMarkets expects no significant revenues from VRDs until the 2018-2019 period.
The arrival of smart glasses could also result in a revolution in mobile display technology.  Almost all mobile displays today are LCDs or OLEDs, but displays for smart glasses are just as likely to be based liquid-crystal-on-silicon (LCoS) or even Texas Instruments’ DLP technology. If the smart glasses market takes off, then the “average” mobile display would become increasingly likely to be LCoS rather than standard LCDs.  This would create opportunities for LCoS makers, who have often been fairly marginal firms up until now.  Two display firms – Himax and Kopin – are already a presence in the smart glasses segment and a few large suppliers – Hitachi and JVC for example – have the resources to compete with their own LCoS displays for smart glasses.
An intrinsic part of the wearable computer concept is that wearables – including smart glasses – will “merge” with the body of the wearer. This implies that smart glasses will transition to more “natural” human-computer interfaces (HCIs) and suggests that there will be a transition from the touch and voice control that are now common in smart glass to gesture control (especially eye tracking) and, eventually BCIs.  At the present time, the revenues from eye tracking and BCIs in smart glasses are negligible, but combined are expected to reach more than $680 million by 2019.  Eye-tracking technology is already being developed by Google for Google “Glass.”
Today most of the sensors and other components used in smart glasses are said to be off-the-shelf parts, although even these are customized to some degree.  In many cases, these components are best characterized as a semi-customized variation of what might be considered a standard product.  In the future, NanoMarkets expects components and subsystems to be more specifically oriented towards the needs of smart glasses.
Firms that have supplied the components for head-mounted displays (HMDs) and heads-up displays (HUDs) for many years, will have the opportunity to pump up volumes if they can get their devices designed into smart glasses by leading OEMs.  Conversely sensor firms that are already selling in large volumes to the automotive and consumer electronics markets may now have a new market to tap into to.  NanoMarkets also believes that some firms that have sold specialized optical subsystems to limited-volume markets (such as optical communications and medical) in the past, may now see some higher volume opportunities emerge from the smart glasses space.
About NanoMarkets:
NanoMarkets tracks and analyzes emerging markets in energy, electronics and other areas created by developments in advanced materials. The firm is a recognized leader in industry analysis and forecasts of sensor and display components markets.
Visit for a full listing of NanoMarkets' reports and other services.
Robert Nolan
(804) 938-0030

posted Sep 29, 2014

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