In February, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced it would be releasing its wearable computing technology known as Google Glass. While reports have Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) at work on wristband-style electronics, one analyst has told investors that Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is gearing up for the release of eye-level hardware that could rival Glass. Though Google won’t ship their first glasses before the end of 2013, Microsoft’s pending answer could mean serious competition for Google next year.
Since Google Glass will be compatible with iPhone and Android devices, Microsoft’s answer would undoubtedly accommodate Windows Phone systems, among other innovations. Most developers agree that both forms of eyewear will include Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS, giving wearers the ability to send texts, field calls, browse the Internet and more via voice commands. A camera is also a logical part of any “glasses” package.
Microsoft’s reported foray into wearable electronics follows a stable (if unremarkable) period in which shareholders have seen the introduction of Windows Phone 8, a partnership with Pandora (NYSE:P) and the introduction of advanced Haslet “ultrabook” technology. Though none of these developments has moved Microsoft stock much in either direction, investors should be encouraged by the company’s ongoing commitment to innovation…
As it will take another six months (at the minimum) to know what exactly is in store for Google Glass, Microsoft has time to develop software that could rival the wearable technology. Aside from the obvious need to make a form of computing eyewear compatible with Microsoft systems, the field is wide open to experimentation. Depending on the reception and performance of Google Glass, there is plenty at stake for companies vying for the lead in this department.
Apple is betting that technology will be more popular on the wrist than on eye level. Apple is busy at work on both “iRadio” and televisions that could be controlled by an “iRing” device worn on the hand of users. With so many developments in the works, Microsoft needs a product that keeps it relevant in the wearable technology field. If it can outdo the forthcoming Google Glass model, that release might prove to be a terrific strategic move.
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