Wearable technology is making a big splash, and the latest numbers prove it. According to IMS Research , the global market for wearable technology posted $2 billion worth of revenues in 2011, and projections are that by 2016, the market will be worth $6 billion. The research also shows that 14 million wearable devices were shipped in 2011, and 171 million devices are forecast to be shipped by 2016.
IMS Research's findings were published last week in a report entitled: "World Market for Wearable Technology -- A Quantitative Market Assessment -- 2012." The report examined the world market for wearable electronic devices that are used in professional and consumer environments, and are worn by users for an extended period of time. The devices use advanced circuitry, are wirelessly enabled, and have the ability to process data.
The report found a growing need for the technology in healthcare, fitness, and wellness markets where these devices collect and electronically transmit a patient's vital signs. These vital signs include glucose readings, weight, or pulse. Leading products in this category include glucose monitors from Abbott Laboratories and Medtronic Inc., activity monitors, from Fitbit, Adidas miCoach, Nike Fuelband, and fitness and heart rate monitors from Garmin, Polar, and Suunto. (See: My Fitbit Experiment: End of the Line.)
However, while devices associated with healthcare have dominated the market, projections are that by 2016, infotainment will account for the largest revenue share, driven by the expected popularity of smart watches and smart glasses, Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IMS Research asserts.
Ahadome sees Google's Smart Glasses and the rumored Apple Smart Watch as products that have the potential to take off in the consumer marketplace. With regard to the high tech industry, the wearable technology market brings new opportunities for chip manufacturers, component suppliers, and others to capture burgeoning opportunities.
Ahadome, who is the report's author, noted that growth in the wearable technology market is tied to the growth of the smartphone and gaming markets. According to IMS Research's figures, 485 million smartphones were shipped in 2011 and projections are that by 2016, over 1.2 billion smartphones will be shipped worldwide. There will also be an installed base of 8.7 billion cellular handset users in 2016, an increase from 5.8 billion in 2011.
The report notes that these trends will impact the wearable technology market in the following ways:
Smartphones: As the number of smartphone users grows and the smartphone become the hub of information for its users, there will be an increasing number of devices that will connect to and exchange data with smartphones. In the healthcare and fitness markets such devices include continuous glucose monitors and activity monitors. Similarly, in the infotainment market, Smart Watches and Smart Glasses are expected to increasingly share data with smartphones.
Smart Glasses: Smart glasses are expected to have built-in cellular connectivity, allowing them to independently receive and transmit data. Consequently, the growth of the Smart Glasses market is less dependent on growth in the smartphone market.
Smart Watches: Smart watches, however, primarily serve as complementary to smartphones; they display information such as incoming calls and to control smartphone applications. As a result, the growth of the smartphone market directly influences growth of the smart watch market. The smartphone installed base hence serves as the total available market for smart watches.
The Gaming Market: In 2011, it was estimated that there was an estimated 77 million registered PlayStation users and 35 million Xbox registered users worldwide. In comparison, there were only an estimated 50,000 Xbox users in 2002. The fast growing gaming market represents a significant opportunity for augmented reality devices such as heads-up displays and smart glasses, which aim to enhance [the] gaming experience.
@WB: well, it seems the discussion is still alive and open; speaking for myself, I personal think we could extend the horizon including other devices, such as NFC paradigm and so on, even they are not perfectly wearable.
For those of you who want another example of wearable technology, here's one for all the readers who are parents. Exmovere's product for babies, Exmobaby, is a snap-on garment, outfitted with wireless technology that monitors ECG, skin temperature and a baby's movement. The technology can transmit alerts to a PC or cell phone. For more information, the website can be found here: http://exmobaby.exmovere.com/
No doubt all these devices are closing to each other in usage, functionality and production --- embedded components ( semiconductors especially). While latest researches in the field of semiconductor showing that, driver of these wearable technology and miniaturized is nanotechnology/nanoscience, infact we shall continue to witness and experiencing disruptivity and conflicting in terms of their usage.
Nevertheless, why do you need SatNavs in your cars if your iPhones or Android phones could navigate you perfectly to your destinations? Why do you need Cameras if your Samsung Notes could take high quality pictures? I do think, and hope wearable devices have market potential in medical and other areas like sports etc. Smartphone and Tablet as wearables?
It is not very clear how one is too classify wearable technology?
@_hm, wearable technology can be any gadget which can be easily carried around by the user and this device works even though the user is not really inputting any data. This device can be in any of the forms like dress,watch, wrist band, headset etc
the smartphone become the hub of information for its users, there will be an increasing number of devices that will connect to and exchange data with smartphones.
@Nicole, thanks for the article. I am curious to know why do we need an extra device if smartphones itself can do most of the job the device can do? For example just installing an App on smart-phone can covert my smart-phone to activity measurement device. So by installing App on my smart-phone I can easily replace by fit-bit.
@TaimoorZ: well, it is a good point; in a such way, I am for you, in the sense, a smartphone is not wereable, definetely; furthermore, I would say is a sort of a device close to each one individual and it provides human positioning, location and interaction in case of emergency. Do we need to conclude we can't consider them?
@Cryptoman: I agree with you; in fact, if we consider for just a moment, smartphones' features in terms of positioning-monitoring of location in near real time-ipv6 native support (at least for a part of them) which allows,natively, sensors' interaction, we can conclude they could be, absolutely, considered.
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Join EBN contributor Jennifer Baljko on Thursday August 23, 2012, at 11:00 a.m. EST for a live chat on how electronic manufacturers in Thailand have shored up their supply chain to reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
Peter Drucker famously said "Trying to predict the future is like trying to drive down a country road at night with no lights while looking out the back window." Yet in the razor's-edge world of electronics—with a lean supply chain and just-in-time demands—the need to know the future is vital.
While no one really can accurately predict the future, we can take guidance from another Drucker saying which is the best way to predict the future is to create it.
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