Move over, Google Glass. Sony said Wednesday that it’s working on a wearable that will likely be debuted at the Consumer Electronics Show in January. While the new product is similar to Google Glass, it’s different in that it clips right onto typical eyeglasses. Google's version, on the other hand, is itself a pair of glasses. Sony's clip-on device is a separate module that transforms regular spectacles, sunglasses and other types of eyewear into wearable technology.
Sony said it accomplished that capability by equipping the device with a high-resolution color OLED microdisplay with a resolution of 600x400 pixels, a micro-optical unit to maximize the potential of the display's high image quality, and a miniaturized control board with arithmetic processing capabilities on par with smartphones that was made possible by high-density packaging technology. The device also boasts Bluetooth capabilities and weighs in at 40 grams.
The company said the module is ideal for use in sports, noting that cyclists or golfers could use the attachment to access course information or distance readings. The obvious competition for the new Sony product is Google Glass, which has failed to catch on with the public. The price of the Sony product isn’t yet known, but by undercutting Google Glass, which costs up to $1,500, Sony could carve out a piece of the market.
Not Enough Buyers?
But how much market is there to carve out? When we talked to Tuong Nguyen, Consumer Tech & Markets analyst with Gartner Inc., he said the wearables market might already be too crowded -- and the response to the market has been too underwhelming -- for a new product to make much of a splash.
"It’s interesting that it attaches to the glasses," said Nguyen. "But it’s still something you have to put on. I have other wearables, and I don’t like the extra step of actually having to get it and put it on. When vendors are able to integrate this technology into the actual glasses' frames, that’s when we should see some movement in this sector."
Sony intends to start mass production of the display module within the next year. Potential customers will include eyewear makers whose pieces are tailored for specific uses such as sports or entertainment, as well electronics manufacturers who are considering pairing their products with wearable devices.
Sony has also been working working on EyeGlass, its answer to Google Glass. However, that device is reportedly still in a prototype phase.
Sony hopes that making the product available to such a wide range of outlets will contribute to the further development of the market. Sony will also provide software development kits to partnering organizations for the single-lens display module.
"For now, devices like this are adult toys -- they’re great for a while, then they get stuck in a closet," Nguyen said. "The only way they’re going to break through will be if they’re accessible to the everyday consumer and not just early adopters, and the average person isn’t going to pay hundreds of dollars for something like this."
Posted: 2015-01-09 @ 9:36am PT
I think it should be offered with Hearing enhancement. I am one of millions who will need help to hear as we get older. The value of adding a hearing component will be indescribable.
Posted: 2014-12-17 @ 6:14pm PT
I disagree with Mr. Nguyen's statement about the extra step to put it on. IMHO it is a good thing because it enables users to take the device off when wearing it is inappropriate or impolite. At the moment there is no market because there is no killer-app that appeals to the masses and, one may argue, there is general fatigue with these smart gadgets that make the user feel dumb and whose privacy implications are still being explored.