The future of the wearables market relies on video stabilisation technology

12th September 2022
Sheryl Miles

Over the next five to ten years, experts predict that smart watches and glasses will move mainstream, as Research And Markets reports the global wearable technology market size is expected to reach $118.16bn by 2028, registering a CAGR of 13.8% from 2021 to 2028. Johan Svensson, Chief Technology Officer, Imint Image Intelligence AB further explores.

As more and more advanced chipsets are launched along with growing consumer adoption, wearables could soon transition from devices only used by early adopters to ones incorporated into the lives of millions of mainstream consumers. 

One of the main barriers to mass adoption of wearables today is the often-lacking video capabilities of wristwatches, glasses, and other wearables. Consumers rely heavily on smartphones to capture both still photography and live video.

In order for wearables to make the next step in becoming the new communications medium, manufacturers must prioritise video performance.

The opportunity for video technology developers

Smart wristwatches, glasses, and other wearables present a huge opportunity for developers of video technology. The challenge, however, is overcoming quality issues associated with movement of the wearable. Even the slightest twitch of an arm or nod of a head will render an unfocused video image when captured by a watch or pair of glasses.

This is where proven video enhancement technology like video stabilisation technology can help. Many smartphone companies already have this kind of software firmly rooted into their devices to keep video steady.

Without video enhancement software, wearables will likely never achieve the same video production level as smartphones. Unlike a smartphone that can be held stable much more easily, wearables move as the body moves, making it much more difficult, if not impossible, to stay in focus.

This makes video stabilisation technology not just an attractive selling feature, but imperative to the progression of wearables. The wearable essentially becomes unusable if the quality of the video can’t be controlled.

While smartphones allow the end-user to adjust settings to manipulate the video, with wearables, the video enhancements need to happen automatically and transparently. Users won’t want to take off their watch or glasses to finetune an image, nor do they want those extra features to impact the size, cosmetics, or comfort of the wearable.

Risks of Unstable Video

When something as inherently unstable as a wearable is used to conduct video chats and live streamed video, there’s more at risk than just poor image quality. Very quickly, the viewer can experience motion sickness, eye strain, fatigue, and disorientation.

With a smart watch, the only way to preclude shakiness is to hold the device perfectly horizontal and still during a video conference – but that is often uncomfortable to the person wearing the device.

A similar situation unfolds when smart glasses are used to capture and stream live video, be it for personal enjoyment, business presentations, or remote, virtual assistance. Imagine touring a model home remotely via smart glasses worn by a realtor or watching vacation scenes sent to you in real-time from a friend’s smart sunglasses. The slightest bob of the head or shift in stance would ruin video image, resulting in an unpleasurable viewing experience.

The path to becoming mainstream

Video stabilisation technology is already being utilised by wearables in industrial settings. AR headsets provide video to and from frontline workers performing field operations, inspections, remote training and collaboration, facility maintenance, safety and quality inspections, and other industrial tasks. This use case has been extremely successful in even the most demanding situations.

For years, consumers have embraced consumer wearables like smart watches for specific niche use cases such as monitoring fitness levels and receiving email and text notifications. Soon, however, as manufacturers begin to weave video stabilisation technologies into wearable devices, smart watches and glasses will have a much broader use case.

The proliferation of Zoom, FaceTime and other videotelephony platforms has made the key to success for burgeoning markets like wearables clear. Video matters, and wearables that can match the video standard set by smartphones are poised to become mainstream.

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