Augmented and virtual reality applications are surging across many industries, but don’t hold your breath waiting for great AR eyeglasses, according to Evan Spiegel, co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc.
Hardware constraints are forcing trade-offs related to power, field of view, and battery life for AR glasses, Spiegel told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. While he said there are ways to overcome the obstacles, it may be a decade before consumers see “the beginnings of very interesting wearable computing experiences.”
Still, that hasn’t stopped Snap, the parent company of the Snapchat app, from taking pre-orders for its newest AR glasses, Spectacles 3, which cost $380.
Even though AR glasses — which typically are bulkier than sunglasses — haven’t caught on with consumers, the business world is adopting more and more AR and VR.
Industries including healthcare, banking, media, investment services and manufacturing are putting AR to use in a variety of areas, including assembly, maintenance, education and training and diagnostics. Worldwide spending on AR and VR will jump to $160 billion in 2023, from $16.8 billion this year, research firm IDC estimated.
Snap’s Spectacles 3, with two high-definition cameras, has augmented reality face filters and features that the company hopes will attract more consumers this time. Spiegel, in the WSJ interview, said he struggled with whether big tech or social media companies should be more heavily regulated. His said his concern is that regulations tend to freeze out smaller companies.
Earlier this year, Snap said it may use some of the proceeds of its $1.265 billion private debt issue for acquisitions of related businesses, products or technologies.
Snap isn’t alone in pursuing a viable AR glasses product, nor the only company to experience fits and starts in that pursuit. Google’s Glass originally failed as an everyday consumer products, but a later version caught on as a headset that could be used to improve productivity in companies. Microsoft has a similar product, the HoloLens 2, that also is aimed for business use. Others, such as Magic Leap and Epson’s Moverio, are designed for entertainment.
- Apple is planning to introduce a new AR eyeglass product in the first half of next year, according to TF Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The company is working with third-party brands, he said in a note.