A pair of glasses that constantly scan the environment and recognize people for their wearer? Glasses that replace the smartphone to make video calls everywhere? Glasses that can be used to play games? For several years now, augmented reality headsets have been regarded as a future technology that should inspire the masses.
But the time has not yet come. Remember the debacle surrounding “Google Glass”, whose wearers were soon called “glass sholes”? Many other attempts to make AR glasses appealing to consumers have also come to nothing for the time being.
Magic Leap, a start-up from Florida, has now made a good turnaround. Instead of selling the “Magic Leap 1” AR-glasses to end consumers, the company is now trying to sell the technology to enterprise customers with around 2.6 billion dollars in venture capital. In the VR industry porn plays a huge role, you can read more about it at www.vrpornstream.com/ – this will be the same for AR.
The spatial computer
The once hyped AR glasses, which are marketed as “spatial computers”, cost just under 3,000 dollars. Large companies such as Boston Consulting Group, BNP Paribas, Deloitte, Hyperloop TT, JetBlue Vacations, McLaren and Skender are supposed to use the “Magic Leap 1” for their employees – for communication, collaboration or training purposes. Real estate developers, for example, will be able to use it to virtually walk through 3D models of future buildings.
It is primarily the high costs and the technology that make AR glasses not yet suitable for mass production. Who would put on a hefty $3,000 computer just to play a game quickly? Magic Leap would have wanted to sell its first version of the headset 100,000 times, but according to The Information it should have been much less. So now the pivot to the Enterprise customer.
Relatively small market
- This puts the company, which is co-financed by Google, on the track that Microsoft has been on for a long time.
- Its latest mixed reality headset, the “HoloLens 2”, costs around 3,500 dollars and is also being marketed to corporate customers.
- In Austria, the headset is used by Wiener Linien, for example, to make maintenance work easier for employees or for training purposes (Trending Topics reported).
According to market researcher IDC, the market for AR and VR headsets is expected to grow to around 18.8 billion dollars in 2020 – almost double the figure for 2019 (around 10.5 billion dollars). The bulk of the money should be spent by companies, not by end consumers. A comparison shows how small the market for such devices is: In the third quarter of 2019 alone, consumers spent around $4.1 billion on so-called “hearables” (i.e. true wireless earbuds such as Apple’s AirPods), according to market researcher Counterpoint.
Is Apple cracking the consumer market?
It is now open whether AR glasses will ever reach the end consumer. At least there are rumors about it. In 2022, Apple is supposed to bring a headset with a gaming focus, followed by AR-glasses in 2023. One of the sticking points will be the privacy that Apple has held so dear in recent years. When the (still) most valuable company in the world puts a computer that scans its environment on the heads of millions of people, it must also be regulated which data it is allowed to collect and process – and which not.