October 22, 2013
Microsoft May Rival Google In Wearable Smart Electronics Market
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday Microsoft could be looking to develop wearable smart glasses that could compete with the technology developed by rival Google. The paper cited "people familiar with the matter," but offered no details about the state of prototypes or whether this is a serious effort to enter the wearable technology market.
Last week research firm Gartner forecast how the wearable smart electronics market could reach $10 billion by 2016. Another forecast from Juniper Research states the segment is expected to reach $19 billion by 2018.
Microsoft, which by some accounts has been late to the mobile and tablet market, could be looking to ensure it is a leader in the wearable tech arena. This could also be a new update to a concept that was linked earlier this year to Microsoft’s Xbox products, including a Kinect Glasses initiative known as “Project Fortaleza.”
Google has so far taken the lead in this category, when it launched Google Glass earlier this year. The search giant's $1,500 Explorer edition has thus far been aimed mostly at developers and early adopters. However, Google is facing increased competition, including that from Recon Instruments, which recently received a “significant” investment from Intel’s investment arm, Intel Capital.
The potential for wearable devices is without limit. Such devices could assist people in business and other environments, aid in measuring fitness activities and also allow users to get tactical data in any setting from the battlefield to an arena or even the office.
“Imagine an office environment in 10 years,” said Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Resarch. “Wearable computing will change Nerf gun battles into laser tag warfare before we know it. Everyone wants to be in the game.”
Applications for wearable devices such as the one Microsoft is rumored to be developing could change the daily lives of the population.
“Beyond just fun, wearable computing will put us more in touch with the devices around us,” Crandall told redOrbit. “Whether it’s location based information and advertising, or communications, eye glasses, headphones and watches that communicate digitally will keep us connected. With Windows 8, Microsoft is already setting the course for a ubiquitous user interface across any device. As we've seen from their stumbles (primarily the result of poor marketing decisions), it's not a simple path, but the direction is clear. The wearable computing movement is here to stay.”
While Microsoft follows other entries into the market of wearables in the form of glasses that offer connectivity, a leak that Microsoft is in development with such a device is not seen as a late entry to the market.
"Microsoft may have missed the first boat on smartphones but it refuses to be left behind in the race to launch wearable devices," the Wall Street Journal article noted.
The opinion was echoed by other outlets, including VentureBeat.
"Smartglasses might be the first hardware category in a long time that Microsoft isn't arriving late to," wrote the site's Ricardo Bilton, who also wrote Microsoft is rumored to be working on a smartwatch.
The smartwatch market has a few more contenders including watches from Samsung and startups including Pebble and I'm Watch Smartwatch. Several companies including Apple and HTC are rumored to be working on a smartwatch model to bring to market.