Digitimes Research: Breakthroughs needed before AR glasses can replace smartphones

Summer Kuo, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei

There is gradual awareness in the market that augmented reality (AR) glasses do have the potential to replace smartphones, as Microsoft's HoloLens AR glasses inventor Alex Kipman has claimed the smartphone is already dead, and Oculus chief scientist Michael Abrash has forecast AR glasses will replace smartphones within the next five years.

In terms of functionality, the hardware specifications of AR glasses are much higher than those for smartphones, including higher resolution displays, lenses with 3D sensing capability, and various types of sensors and long endurance batteries. However, the technology bottlenecks for the developments of these hardware products are likely to be removed along with the progress of time, enabling AR glasses not only to have complete features of smartphones but also powerful AR applications, moving them closer to replacing smartphones.

However, some breakthroughs still needed to be done for AR glasses as there is a great difference on the application of human-machine interfaces between AR glasses and smartphones.

People use touch panels and voice control to operate smartphones within a short distance using an intuitive, direct human-machine communication model.

In contrast, existing AR input methods are not straightforward, such as the use of touchpads. Some AR features do not address the privacy issue arising from gesture recognition or voice control.