17 February 2019
Breaking through the glass barrier? Samsung's Glass Gear. Picture:
Breaking through the glass barrier? Samsung's Glass Gear. Picture:

Samsung vs Google: The new glass war

The future could be right before your eyes if “smart glass” really takes off as wearable tech.

Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics is reportedly planning to launch Gear Glass, its first smart glass product, as early as September this year to rival Google Glass, the industry leader that hit the market in 2012.

Smart glass refers to high-tech glasses that let you browse online on an embedded screen using verbal commands. Just by saying “OK glass” users can call up an EJ Insight page or summon Facebook updates. 

From Korean media reports it seems that Gear Glass is much the same as the Google offering, coming equipped with a small prism slightly above one eye for viewing content and an earpiece for listening. It will run on Tizen, the open-source operating system that Samsung has played a large role in developing. Samsung is the global leader in Android smartphones and the shift to Tizen could be the start of the company’s widely rumored shift away from the Google operating system. 

Smart glass is still in its infancy and it’s only this week that Google started selling Google Glass to the public — for US$1,500. The price suggests that it’s still a way off being a mass-market product.

So what’s in it for users? Google Glass touts itself as a ground-breaking way to receive content, take photos and reach out to others. In tandem with either an Android phone or an Apple iOS device, Google Glass will take a picture, upload the image to Twitter or Facebook and attached a caption, all via a few voice commands.

In addition, users can browse the internet for anything from news and flight information, to weather reports and messages. The New York Times, for example, already has a dedicated Google Glass app to beam news onto the Glass screen.

One of the bugs though is privacy — others may not know wearers are taking a photo if all is needed is a verbal order. 

Other wearable devices are also expected to flood the gadget market later this year, including the hotly anticipated Apple smartwatch and similar offerings from phonemakers LG and HTC (02498.TW). Such devices, which are mostly designed for sport and to monitor health, are seen as the next growth drivers for gadget makers as smartphone and tablets peak. BI Intelligence suggests that by 2018 wearable technology will be a US$12 billion market. 

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EJ Insight writer

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