Wearables – The Bright Light on the Camera Horizon?

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Jul 17, 2013

The next wave of disruption in the capture market will come from wearable devices. The wearable camera market falls within the wearable technology market, which consists of a wide range of products that are designed to be worn, to be always switched on and to monitor in some way the person wearing the technology and their environment. The fitness market has been the trailblazer in the wearable tech market with products like Fitbit and Jawbone. Players in the wearable camera market include established players, such as GoPro and emerging players such as Google, Memoto, and Vuzix.

The wearable camera market can be segmented into 3 distinct product areas:

Action cameras. Arguably, the action camera market is as much about the mounting system as the camera. This is a niche market and will likely remain a niche market serving predominantly outdoor sports enthusiasts. Vendors in this market include GoPro, iOn and Looxcie.

Lifelogging cameras. Lifelogging cameras are designed to log or document life. These small cameras are always on and will typically be capturing still images at set intervals, such as every 30 seconds. Lifelogging cameras are designed to be very simple to use and there is little need for the user to interfere with the camera to operate it. Lifelogging cameras need to have long lasting batteries and large storage capacity. Processing capacity in the camera is limited since images are normally not edited in the camera. For this reason, lifelogging cameras do not have an LCD display for reviewing images. Vendors in the lifelogging camera market include OMG Life’s Autographer, Mecam and Memoto.

Heads up displays (HUDs). Heads up displays are designed to show data in the field of vision. The products that are currently available in this category look like spectacles with a small screen either at the top or bottom of the field of vision. HUDs are fitted with basic camera components and shooting photos or videos is only one of several tasks that these devices can perform. Google Glass and competing devices such as Vuzix M-100 Smart Glasses and the Recon Jet fall in the HUD category. It is the vendors in this market that InfoTrends believes will drive future innovation in image capture. The market today is in its infancy and there are only a handful of products available, which are expensive and have limited distribution.

Wearable cameras have the potential to become replacements to smartphones and point & shoot digital cameras. Before that can happen issues around design need to be resolved. HUDs look “geeky” and for now most people will find them too intrusive to wear in public. HUDs are priced beyond what most consumers can afford. Recon Jet glasses are available at $499 and as of yet there is no official price for Google Glass. The Glass Explorer version sold at $1,500.

Like smartphones, HUDs represent convenience and the possibility of converging technologies. If HUDs of the future gain connectivity independently of smartphones, it is likely that HUDs will replace smartphones for many users. Also, just like smartphones, HUDs have open operating systems. HUD vendors are working with independent developers of apps in order to create the user experience that is demanded by consumers.

It is possible that HUDs will be as disruptive to smartphones as smartphones have been to point and shoot cameras. When HUDs gain 3G and 4G connectivity consumer demand for smartphones may drop. The winners in the world of constant capture will be the companies that help consumer manage their vast collection of photos. This is where players in the lifelogging market such as OMG Life and Memoto have an advantage since their solutions include advanced software for managing, searching and sorting images.

For more information on InfoTrends’ coverage of the wearable camera market check out the report The Wearable Camera Market – An Overview or contact Matt O’Keefe (matt.okeefe@infotrends.com) or Jennie Lewis (jennie.lewis@infotrends.com)

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