Example of AR glasses

Why Glasses will be AR’s Tesla Roadster. Decisive.

How mass AR will dominate consumers, #3

You read all the fancy stories. “Snap Inc. patented AR glasses”, “Facebook and Oculus granted new patent for AR glasses” and so on.
Facebook, Google, Apple, Snap, …. All the big names in tech have shown interest in AR technology and invest in it. Yet it seems that all those investments focus on two things:

  • Bring AR to the masses by using existing tech = smartphone
  • Bring AR to the masses by introducing a new device = glasses

Step 1: use existing technology and build on top

With Apple you have ARKit, with Google you have ARCore, with Facebook you have AR Studio. All those platforms are aiming to bring Augmented Reality to the masses by using existing technology or rather build on existing technology = the smartphone and its sensors (image, gyroscope).

Obviously, using the most important device in people’s life makes sense. People love using their phones, using the camera and communicating visually. Why not enhance and augment the experience? It’s convenient and will convince people. Step 1 into mass AR done.

Step 2: introduce new technology…or not?

Now, glasses. That’s a whole other story to talk about. 
It’s important to understand that there are — at least for now — technical difficulties that still have to be solved adequately like fitting all the necessary tech into a “glasses device”. Yet, this article is taking a look at the consumer and the biggest possible problem I see:

Not everybody wants to wear glasses all the time.

People are very picky about their appearance. Clothes, hair, accessories, phones (brand, covers), watches (smart or not). And frankly, glasses don’t come handy. Not everybody wants to wear glasses. Even if they are interested in the Augmented Reality technology this could stop a lot of people from using AR glasses. Step 2 into mass AR questionable.

Step 3: the tipping point

Technology adoption curve

The big question here is:

Will AR glasses be enough to reach the tipping point into early mass adoption?

Two contrary examples to explain the curve:

Look at Google Glass (I know…). Expensive, early, wrong positioning.
The hardcore believers (2,5%) bought them and freaked out. It still didn’t work out for Google (at that time).

Compare it to the Tesla Roadster. Expensive, early, right positioning.
People freaked out and paved the way to build the Model S (13,5%) which paved the way for the Model 3 (34%?).

I predict that technology will only be secondary when it comes to AR glasses. The focus will lie on aesthetics and positioning. (Apple, anyone?)