Some 10 million smart glasses will ship worldwide between 2012 and 2016 -- and Google isn't the only maker of these social glasses.
The fledgling market segment will grow from about 50,000 shipments in 2012 to 124,000 in 2013, according to IHS IMS Research, April 2013. The biggest jump will come in 2014 when Google Glass begins to become readily available and ship to consumers.
The analyst firm estimates smart glass shipments will rise from 434,000 in 2014 to 2.17 million in 2015, and 6.6 million in 2016.
Initial growth this year for Google Glass will mostly come from sales to developers. Expansion will begin to accelerate in 2014, with initial public availability of Google Glass, as shipment growth rises to 250%, based on the optimistic forecast, according to IHS.
Google isn't the only maker of these social glasses. Japanese entrepreneur Takahito Iguchi invented and built Telepathy One, showcased in a small booth at the SXSW 2013 Interactive festival last month in Austin, Texas. The device, demonstrated by Midori Takaso, sports a micro camera and a projection display, along with a wireless system that allows wearers to communicate in real time.
IHS also takes a pessimistic view, given privacy concerns, cutting the forecast to 1 million glasses through 2016 if hit with stifling legislation. Aside from the Australian Privacy Commissioner wanting to take a closer look at potential privacy implications, other futuristic fiction views shed light on concerns.
Applications for smart glasses based on privacy concerns will become more of a wearable camera device than a true augmented reality system. In this case, smart glasses will be mainly used for recording sports and other non-casual events, like jumping out of a plane, as demonstrated at the Google I/O developer conference in 2012.
While the wearable camera market has an estimated worth of about $200 million in 2012, it is not the multibillion-dollar market that smart glasses can achieve with wider applicability, according to IHS.