Market Analyst Predicts Market Size at 10 times PC-Based Units
Spectra7 Microsystems, a leading provider of high-performance analog semiconductor products for broadband connectivity markets, believes that the future of AR/VR/MR will include growth in mobile tethered smartglasses that will rely on ultra-thin and light active copper interconnects enabled by the Company’s chips.
Tim Merel, Managing Director at Digi-Capital, describes “tethered smartglasses” in his TechCrunch article1 as one of four augmented reality waves that will help drive the AR market to more than a billion users and $83 billion by 2021.2
Mr. Merel describes standalone smartglasses as the end game, but cites several challenges over the next few years. He writes, “Until a major breakthrough in battery technology or device efficiency, a lightweight pair of standalone AR smartglasses doing heavy-duty AR is hard to power all day without a battery pack or hot-swappable batteries… This is a non-trivial problem.” He also highlights issues on the software side, “…Mobile tethered smartglasses offer a potential solution to both.”1
Mr. Merel also points out that mobile offers potentially a much larger market for these devices, citing a dynamic in VR where mobile systems outnumber PC equivalents 10 to one.
Spectra7 is currently engaged with several leading smartglass and smartphone customers on these mobile tethered solutions.
“We’re extremely excited by this new high-growth market that leverages our current products from the PC tethered AR/VR/MR space,” said Spectra7 CEO Raouf Halim. “We anticipate seeing early production ramp with multiple smart phone OEMs in the second half of 2018.”
Leading smartphone models with USB Type-C ports support simultaneous display and data connections. Technology leaders already offering these advanced features currently represent about 1/3 of the 1.5 billion unit per year smartphone market, with others expected to follow in the next 6 to 18 months. This offers a large and growing installed base of phones that will potentially support tethered smartglasses as a simple peripheral.3
Spectra7 enables interconnects for these smartglasses to be as thin and light as cables typically used for audio ear buds. This dictates an outer cable diameter (OD) of 2mm or less. Spectra7’s interconnects make this possible by restoring the display and camera data signals that are attenuated and distorted by the extremely thin conductors. Typical passive Type-C cables have an OD of 5mm in diameter or larger. These large and heavy cables are a non-starter for connecting to light weight smartglasses.