Samsung will unveil a Galaxy Glass wearable computer, a competitor to Google Glass, as early as September at the IFA trade show in Germany, according to unnamed officials quoted by the Korea Times.
The report quotes a Samsung official saying the South Korean company hopes to be a market leader with the product, now called Galaxy Glass, adding that wearable devices like Samsung's own Galaxy Gear smartwatch "can't generate profits immediately."
Google's wearable computer Glass, above, could have some competition from Samsung, which may launch its own digital eyewear in September.
Samsung registered a patent with the Korea Intellectual Property Office last year for "sports glasses" that included a diagram of what many believe will eventually be Samsung's Galaxy Glass design. The device is linked to a smartphone for handling calls, but also has a USB connector that extends from the ends of the ear pieces on the sports glasses.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on Samsung's patent in October.
It's not surprising that Samsung is working on a smart glass design, considering how quickly the company launched its Galaxy Gear smartwatch in late 2012 even though the smartwatch category is still emerging. The $300 Gear smartwatch uses Bluetooth to connect to certain Samsung smartphones and can be used to answer calls in a speaker phone mode. It also receives alerts and takes photos that are transferred to the phone and can be stored on a limited 1GB of storage on the Gear device.
Some analysts believe Samsung has had trouble selling the Gear smartwatch, but that the slow market won't hold back Samsung from working on new projects like Galaxy Glass, given the huge advantage of being a market innovator.
"Smart glasses won't become commonplace with consumers for five to 10 years," said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insight & Strategy.
"Like other wearables, vertical implementations will be more successful than horizontal [for mass consumer adoption]," Moorhead said. "Samsung knows this too, but wants to be seen as an innovator and therefore would launch a smart glass product well before it becomes mainstream."
"Samsung will have a competitive product to Google Glass for competitive pressure and wanting to own emerging markets," said Jack Gold, an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "Google Glass is not a mass market product because it is too complex and too expensive and not as user friendly as needed. It is rather a proof of concept. So I expect Samsung to try the same thing and likely sell more than Glass does just because of Samsung's sheer channel strength. But that doesn't mean it is a final consumer friendly product that's ready for market. Heads-up displays and virtual reality devices will take several more years before we see truly mature consumer-ready devices."
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