This is the era of the smart everything and there is a new segment that has started to make the waves. A new Juniper Research study forecasts that revenue from smart audio hardware will triple to at least $5.5 billion by 2020. The numbers are likely to come from devices like the Amazon Echo and Google Home which has already created a buzz in the market. But Juniper expects some of the numbers to be driven by ear-based wearables like the Samsung Gear Icon X, Bragi Dash and HERE Active Listening.
As per the the research, titled Future Hearables & Smart Audio: Roadmap, Opportunities & Forecasts 2016-2021, home-based smart audio will dominate because consumers are not yet willing to talk to machines in public and also because smartphones can already provide similar functions. So the scope of an on-the-go digital assistant device will be limited, it says.
But Juniper estimates that this does not mean the so called hearables have no scope. While they will provide active noise cancellation and call handling, they will thrive on fitness with everything from step counts to inbuilt coaching software. But these will stay a niche category.
“Smart speakers win because while they also need a context, their form factor gives them an almost universal one, while hearables fill specific audio niches,” said research author James Moar, adding that smart speakers and hearables will hence fill very different roles, despite relying on similar software capabilities in many cases.