Are Apple, Google, Microsoft making the right bets on wearables?

A new study finds that Apple, Google and Microsoft are betting big on newer form factors in wearables and electronic user interfaces (EUI). But the industry heavy-hitters are overlooking some potentially juicy opportunities.

Lux Research detailed the results of its new report “Future of Interaction: Using a Taxonomy to Understand Apple’s, Google’s and Microsoft’s Electronic User Interface Bets.”

The report found the three tech titans are focusing more resources on new interface technology like innovative forms of wearables, EUI, see-through displays, voice control and gesture control. And these interfaces are often the deciding factor for winning consumers’ wallets.

“The electronic user interface can be the difference between a product’s success or failure,” said Lux Research Analyst and report author Tony Sun.

“But no single style of interface can fully understand human intention, so a device with truly natural user interfaces will use multiple types of input and output,” Sun added.

The report mapped EUI activity by Microsoft, Google and Apple, and surprisingly found that the three market leaders had largely ignored opportunities in use cases in public spaces and haptic technology

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Apple, Google and Microsoft differ in approach

The report found that Microsoft is leaning heavily on its four natural user interface platforms. They are: the HoloLens augmented reality smart glasses; the Kinect motion sensing technology that also incorporates voice control; the Surface Hub large-format interactive display; and natural language processing through its cloud service.

“Google’s strength is internal R&D,” the release said. “Google’s EUI activity mainly relies on internal computer science research and the development through its Advanced Technology and Projects group.

Google is researching such EUI aspects as multi-touch in smart textiles, RF-based gesture control, speech and natural language processing, as well as touch and gesture interpretation.

Apple, meanwhile, relies more on acquisitions than internal R&D as shown in the seven EUI developers it bought since 2014. These acquisitions include: Beats headphones; augmented reality software firm Metaio; and natural language processing startup VocalIQ.

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