Comment: Where video stabilization technology fits with wearables

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With the impending launch of more advanced chipsets combined with growing consumer adoption, wearables are inching closer to supplanting smartphones as consumers’ preferred communications medium, says Johan Svensson, Chief Technology Officer of Imint Image Intelligence AB.

Imint Image Intelligence AB

The embedded video imaging capabilities of wristwatches, glasses, and other wearables will undoubtedly influence their transition from early adopters to mainstream consumers, driven largely by the proliferation of Zoom, FaceTime and other videotelephony platforms, for both personal and professional use.

Further leveraging video’s stake in the wearable market is consumers’ reliance on smartphones for capturing still photography and live video. Wristwatches, glasses and other wearable devices seem like a natural next-step to support these activities, and by all accounts, we seem to be headed that way. According to Research And Markets, the global wearable technology market size is expected to reach $118.16bn by 2028, registering a CAGR of 13.8 per cent from 2021 to 2028.

With Challenge Comes Opportunity

Clearly, smart wristwatches, glasses, and other wearables present a huge opportunity for developers of video technology. The inherent challenge 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.

Here’s where a proven video enhancement technology like video stabilization technology can help. This kind of software is already firmly rooted in many smartphones to keep video steady, and can do the same for wearables.

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

Smartphones allow the end-user to adjust settings to manipulate the video, but with wearables, the video enhancements need to happen automatically and transparently. Users don’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.

Deliver a meaningful end-user experience

There’s more at risk than poor image quality when something as inherently unstable as a wearable device is used to conduct video chats and stream live video. Motion sickness, eye strain, fatigue, and disorientation can occur. Holding a watch perfectly horizontal and still during a video conference is the only way to preclude shakiness, but it’s uncomfortable to the person wearing the watch and to participants who struggle to focus on video that comes through blurry and warped.

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 future looks bright for video stabilization in wearables

Today, video stabilization 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.

When it comes to consumer wearables, current users have embraced smart watches for specific niches such as monitoring fitness levels, receiving email and text notifications, and placing occasional video calls. AR glasses, as well, offer gamers a highly interactive, engaging experience.

Over the next five-to-10 years, as video stabilization technologies weave their way into wearable devices, experts predict that smart watches and glasses will move mainstream. Smartphones have set the video standard in personal mobile devices; wearables that can match it with effortless and automatic imaging enhancements through innovative video stabilization technologies are destined for great success.

Johan Svensson is Chief Technology Officer of Imint Image Intelligence AB