Will consumers wear Alexa-enabled AR glasses?
Augmented reality (AR) glasses may finally offer the functionality needed to convince people to wear them — by letting users leverage Amazon.com’s Alexa voice-activated technology.
This year’s CES show will feature the debut of a pair of Alexa-ready AR glasses by Vuzix Corp., according to the Chicago Tribune. Vuzix will initially retail the glasses for $1,000 when releasing them in the second quarter of 2018 (with the eventual goal of cutting that price point in half by 2019). Wearers will be able to speak to Alexa and ask the digital assistant to display images, like maps, on the glasses’ AR readout. The device has been confirmed by Amazon to be the first smart glasses outfitted with Alexa.
Wearables devices have generally been slow to gain traction despite years of industry talk and enthusiasm from early adopters.
While some wearables, like health trackers (most notably Fitbit), initially had an impressive rate of adoption, that rate has tapered significantly. Other wearables, like the Apple Watch, were released to great fanfare but haven’t caught on as some expected.
When it comes to AR glasses in particular, Google’s early entry to the space, Google Glass, was so controversial that it generated backlash against users. More recent entrants to the wired glasses space, like Snapchat’s image- and video-capturing Spectacles, have also failed to catch on.
But there remains a belief in some tech circles that a wearable will likely be the device that moves us away from our smartphones and toward interacting with technology in a more intuitive way. For instance, at last year’s IRCE conference, Imran Asani, principal manager of innovation at Walmart Labs, forecasted AR becoming ubiquitous in the next five years, delivered by smart glasses or a similar device.
Whether Alexa integration can overcome privacy concerns and other problems that have prevented mass smart glasses adoption thus far remains to be seen.
The smart glasses interface isn’t the only place outside the home where third parties are introducing Alexa. Chinese company Anker is releasing a device that will integrate Alexa fully into automobiles, according to The Verge.
- First Amazon Alexa-enabled digital glasses to debut at CES – Chicago Tribune
- Is Walmart’s innovation leader right that the AR revolution is a sure thing? – RetailWire
- Anker steps up its car game with the Alexa-enabled Roav Viva – The Verge
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will Alexa’s voice-activation tech be the feature that spurs the mass adoption of smart glasses? What factors might the success or failure of this product hinge on?