A new "wearable" computer by Google which puts a smartphone computer onto a pair of glasses frames could be worth $3.3 billion (£2.1 billion) by 2017, according to one analyst.
Robert Peck of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey (via AllThingsD) says the so-called Google Glass will have an install base of 64,500 and retail for $349 (£223) within just four years.
Google Glass was first revealed by Google in 2012, but won’t see a release until 2014 to allow time for early testers to put the product through its paces.
A small screen is projected onto the user’s right eye, where they can use voice commands to search for information, take pictures with a built-in camera, see turn-by-turn directions and more. An app store will also be available, boosting the feature set with apps by third-party developers as seen on the last generation of smartphones.
Businesses will eventually be able to advertise to Google Glass users based on their location or search interests. One common example: receiving a voucher for a discount purchase as you pass a coffee shop.
Reviewers have applauded the new technology as “Google’s iPhone moment,” though concerns have been raised about whether the screen will prove too invasive for mainstream use. Others argue that it frees users to get on with tasks without turning to their smartphones.
And while business owners may consider the risk of their workforce being distracted by personal notifications from email and social networks, there may be an case for dedicated business use which makes staff more efficient and mobile.
“Google Glass is a product that will stand up for decades as the launch of a new genre,” said technologist Robert Scoble in an interview with Venture Beat. “If there is one point investors should take away from Glass, it is that the technology is unique because it enables a person to perform actions while keeping their head up and continuing their first-person perspective.”