While consumer-focused companies are working to develop smart glasses, Microsoft (MSFT) and Vuzix (VUZI) is making great strides with augmented reality headsets for enterprise applications. This development could lead to future AR glasses.
Pure-play AR headphone maker Vuzix has seen the stock rise in recent months after a stream of announcements and positive analyst comment.
Microsoft on March 2 announced an augmented reality platform that blends the HoloLens AR headset with its Azure cloud computing infrastructure for virtual meetings. The platform, called Microsoft Mesh, creates immersive experiences by integrating people, places and content into physical and digital worlds.
Meanwhile, rumors persist apple (AAPL), Facebook (FB), Alphabet‘s (GOOGL) Google and other competitors are developing AR smart glasses.
Smart glasses called ‘Paradigm Shift In Computing’
Augmented reality glasses are considered as the next major computing platform for smartphones. Many of the features of smartphones can shift to head-scratching screens and equipment, say analysts. This includes making and receiving phone calls and text messages, getting directions and other applications. More advanced AR-smart glasses can put information about people and objects into the user’s field of view.
ABI Research estimates that the augmented reality market will exceed $ 140 billion by 2025. It includes headset hardware, software and services. The market today is largely business-focused. Last year, the augmented reality headset market generated less than $ 10 billion in revenue.
“In business, this technology will be everywhere in the future,” Vuzix CEO Paul Travers told Investor’s Business Daily. “This paradigm shift in computing is going to affect the world in a wonderful way.”
Pandemic promotes the company’s interest in augmented reality
The Covid-19 pandemic has driven interest in augmented reality headsets for remote assistance and training, Eric Abbruzzese, research director at ABI Research, told IBD.
“Interest has risen in the air,” he said.
With built-in cameras, AR headphones allow external support personnel to see what an on-site worker is seeing. And on-site workers can get visual guidance from screens that are either on the side or overlaid in the field of view.
Major corporate markets for AR headphones include medical, automotive, manufacturing, architecture, engineering and construction.
The largest suppliers of business headsets are Microsoft, RealWear and Vuzix, said Abbruzzese.
Going from test phase to wider distributions
Companies are beginning to shift from the test phase to broader implementation of the technology, he said. The rollout has been reduced by the fact that the technology must be adapted to specific industries and individual companies, Abbruzzese said.
Most companies use augmented reality headsets with monocular screens. These smart glasses provide a glossy display that workers can consult while repairing or maintaining equipment. It’s like “YouTube Mr. Fix-It videos on steroids,” Matt Margolis, Vuzix’s director of business development and strategic affairs, told IBD.
The next generation of smart glasses will provide transparent screens that place forms and other data on a person’s field of vision. Vuzix plans to launch consumer-focused next-generation smart glasses later this year.
But Apple and others also have designs in the market for smart glasses. They have been waiting for improvements in battery and display technology before jumping into the market.
Apple Smart Glasses can combine device features
Apple probably sees smart glasses as a way to combine the features of the Apple Watch smartwatch and AirPods wireless earbuds into one product, Abbruzzese said. The device can provide glossy alerts and telephony, as well as music controls using speech or simple touches or gestures.
“If there is one company that can accelerate the market, it is Apple,” said Abbruzzese.
Until then, enterprise applications will dominate the augmented reality market, he said.
Investor interest has been aroused by the promise of smart glasses as well.
Microsoft, Vuzix Making Waves In Augmented Reality
At the Ignite conference on March 2, Microsoft demonstrated that the HoloLens device was used in operations, industrial training and external collaboration. The mesh service allows people to meet holographic with colleagues and interact with 3D models and other content.
Half of the Fortune 500 companies have purchased HoloLens 2 headsets, said Alex Kipman, a technology fellow at Microsoft, at Ignite. The headsets, which were sold a year ago, start at $ 3,500.
HoloLens customers include Airbus, Lockheed Martin, Mercedes and Toyota, Kipman said.
Meanwhile, Vuzix shares have risen sharply since breaking out of a cup base at a buyout point of 5.41 on December 15, according to IBD MarketSmith charts. It reached a full-time high on 26.08 on 2 March. ARK Invest and State Street have accumulated large shares in the Vuzix share recently.
Follow Patrick Seitz on Twitter at @IBD_PSeitz for more stories on consumer technology, software and semiconductor stocks.
CAN YOU ALSO LIKE:
Is Apple Stock a buy ahead of a possible launch event in March?
Is Microsoft Stock A Buy as Software Giant Gains Cloud Market Share?
Apple, Snap brings augmented reality to life before smart glasses
Find winning stocks with MarketSmith Pattern Recognition & Custom Screens
See stocks in the list of managers near a point of purchase