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Wearable devices years away from mainstream


Consumers and businesses will have to wait a few more years before wearable computing devices become widely available, a senior executive of the software giant Microsoft said on Tuesday (29 October 2013)  at the 11th annual Global Views Business Forum in Taipei.

“I think wearable devices require more time, maybe three to five years in development, before they can become mainstream,” said Zhang Ya-qin, Microsoft corporate vice president and chairman of the company’s Asia-Pacific research group.

“We expect to see a lot of try-outs of the devices in the coming years, in forms that include watches and eyeglasses,” he said in a panel discussion.

According to long-term forecasts, however, the volume of wearable devices will be 10 times the shipments of current mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet PCs, Zhang said.

This indicates great potential for companies to tap into the cloud computing business, he said days after it was reported that Microsoft was testing prototypes for web-connected eyewear devices to compete against Google Glass.

The US software company has asked several component makers in Asia to supply cameras and other key components to produce the prototypes, which might never enter mass production, the Wall Street Journal reported on Oct. 22, citing sources familiar with the project.

Wearable device revenues are forecast to grow to US$6 billion by 2018, with estimated annual shipments of 485 million units, according to the market research firm ABI Research.

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