Could Google Glass become as popular as Apple's iPhone? A new report from Forrester Research indicates it could be.
The report, based on a survey of 4600 U.S. adults, found that 12 percent of Americans -- that is, about 21 million people -- would be willing to wear "augmented reality glasses" that came from a brand they trust. Forrester analyst Sarah Rotman Epps, writing on the Forrester blog, said that the research firm has "no doubt that, in time, Glass will be the next iPhone" -- that is, the "next great platform for engaging consumers and workers."
Currently, Glass is only available in a limited number of developer model units at $1500 each. At least one firm -- BI Intelligence -- has predicted the device will sell more than three-quarters of a million units next year and as many as 21 million units in 2018, and that prices will drop to $600 within three years.
Appeal of Smart Watches
As wearable computing begins to emerge, a key question is which kind of wearable devices will most people want. While the Forrester study found that 12 percent would buy and use the Glass, it also revealed that 28 percent, or about 50 million people, would buy and use an interactive wristwatch, such as the ones that Apple and Samsung are reportedly working on. In April, a report by ChangeWave found 20 percent of American consumers would buy an iWatch.
One of the many possible applications for Glass was demonstrated recently. At the Eastern Maine Medical Center, Dr. Rafael Grossman performed surgery wearing a Glass, making the first such occasion ever. He has written on his blog that he "wanted to show that this device and its platform are certainly intuitive tools that have a great potential in Healthcare, and specifically for surgery."
He cited "better intra-operative consultations, surgical mentoring" and the possibility for remote medical education, and noted that the use of the device during surgery was done with the patient's consent. No patient-identifying information was utilized, including no image of the patient's face.
'Lot of Promise'
Avi Greengart, an analyst with industry research firm Current Analysis, agreed that Glass "holds a lot of promise," but said there are still major questions about what the device will do and how much it will cost.
He pointed out that, "although price does tend to come down over time," the key question is whether the perceived value is worth whatever price is charged, and added that such an assessment cannot be made at the moment. Greengart also noted a wide variety of other issues, including privacy, social acceptance, and battery life for a continually-worn device.
As an example of some of the social issues, he said, people around a Glass-wearer would "assume they are being photographed" continuously, and that there is data overlay as in the Iron Man suit of movie/comic book character Tony Stark.
Greengart, who has not yet received a test unit, admitted that there is a great deal of value in being "able to know who a person is and when I last saw them."
But, he noted, he already has that capability, at least on occasions. "It's called my wife," he said.