Smart glasses may face hurdles in enterprise

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Nearly 10 million smart glasses will be shipped from 2012 to 2016, a majority of units shipped in 2016, forecasts IHS Research.

Fueled by Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) launch of Google Glass, IHS forecasted that shipments of global smart glasses will jump from only 50,000 in 2012 to 6.6 million in 2016. This year, shipments will jump 150 percent to 124,000 shipments, primarily to developers.

However, smart glasses might have a more difficult time being adopted in the enterprise due to privacy and safety concerns.

"Businesses are going to quickly realize the exposure to both liability and corporate security and one after another companies, large and small, are going to ban Google Glass use within work areas. Because Google Glass can be used without notice, that ban will extend to even wearing the device on the premises," observed James Kendrick of ZDNet.

In addition, Google Glass could cause safety risks for workers who might be distracted looking at information displayed on their smart glasses. This concern was acknowledged by Google, which required Google Glass app developers to agree that they would not use the application programming interface "for any activities where the use or failure of the APIs could lead to death, personal injury, or environmental damage (such as the operation of nuclear facilities, air traffic control or life support systems)."

Once Google Glass is available for public purchase in 2014, IHS predicts that shipments of smart glasses will increase 250 percent per year, according to the firm's optimistic scenario.

Though under a pessimistic scenario, smart glasses would only reach 1 million unit shipments from 2012 to 2016. This scenario assumes that smart glasses will be used primarily as a wearable camera, rather than as a more comprehensive augmented reality device, IHS noted.

"The less frequently consumers interact with any personal communications device, the less valuable it becomes. If smart glasses become devices that are used only occasionally, rather than all the time, they become less attractive and desirable to consumers," observed Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IHS.

For more:
- see the IHS release

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