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The Future of Wearable Tech

The Future of Wearable Tech
by Raj Kosaraju on 05-09-2016 at 7:00 am

 Today, the wearable device market is a nascent, but growing one. There are about 160 unique wearable devices on the market, and IDTechEx predicts wearables will grow to a $70 billion market in the next ten years. The future of wearables, which includes activity trackers, smartwatches, smartglasses and embedded sensors in clothing, is quickly evolving and changing to reflect technological advances and new products available in the marketplace. Health-related wearables, particularly those for seniors and babies, and for monitoring sleep and health conditions, constituted a large segment of the new devices. The most popular devices will be smartwatches and fitness trackers.

Gartner, Inc. forecasts that 274.6 million wearable electronic devices will be sold worldwide in 2016, an increase of 18.4 percent from 232.0 million units in 2015 (see Table 1). Sales of wearable electronic devices will generate revenue of $28.7 billion in 2016. Of that, $11.5 billion will be from smartwatches.

“From 2015 through 2017, smartwatch adoption will have 48 percent growth largely due to Apple popularizing wearables as a lifestyle trend. Smartwatches have the greatest revenue potential among all wearables through 2019, reaching $17.5 billion,”

Table 1: Forecast for Wearable Devices Worldwide (Millions of Units)
| Device
| 2015
| 2016
| 2017
| Smartwatch
| 30.32
| 50.40
| 66.71
| Head-mounted display
| 0.14
| 1.43
| 6.31
| Body-worn camera
| 0.05
| 0.17
| 1.05
| Bluetooth headset
| 116.32
| 128.50
| 139.23
| Wristband
| 30.15
| 34.97
| 44.10
| Smart garment
| 0.06
| 1.01
| 5.30
| Chest strap
| 12.88
| 13.02
| 7.99
| Sports watch
| 21.02
| 23.98
| 26.92
| Other fitness monitor
| 21.07
| 21.11
| 25.08
| Total
| 232.01
| 274.59
| 322.69

Source: Gartner (January 2016)

Here are some 10 new opportunities for Wearables Technology in the forthcoming years:

1) Big Opportunity: According to PwC, companies in the EMC industries have perhaps the largest opportunity for advancement and growth in the wearable technology market. Basically, where there’s a screen, there’s an opportunity – and if projections that sales of wearables could reach 130 million units in 2018 are correct, that opportunity is big.

2) Choose a Device by Human Touch: Consumers may need a human touch to help them choose a device and its associated apps. An “apps formulary” of apps vetted by medical teams (and available in a virtual apps pharmacy) could help consumers wade through the thousands of health apps and devices.

3) Social Media Benefit of Wearables: As social media becomes more fundamental to the way we receive information and interact with others, consumers want wearable technology to offer anytime/anywhere access to their favorite networks. This is especially true among millennials, who were three times as likely as the general population to list real-time social media updates as an important benefit of wearables.

4) Chronic diseases led to the growth of wearable technology :The increasing demands from consumers and medical application have also led to the growth of wearable technology in the Americas. Other factors promoting the growth of the market are increasing incidences of chronic diseases, diabetes patients, and ease of use. While fitness bands, smart watches and other wearables are already established in the market, many of them have under-delivered on expectations.

5) Wearable Technology can be used for Capturing Data:Wearable data can be used by insurers and employers to better manage health, wellness and healthcare costs, by pharmaceutical and life sciences companies to run more robust clinical trials, and by healthcare providers to capture data to support outcomes-based reimbursement. The market for wearable technology is on the rise owing to growing demand from younger demographics and the high computing power wearable devices provide in a relatively small and compact size. They have linked their fitness watches, heart monitors and other wearable health devices to an iPhone app that is sending valuable information thousands of miles away. But it will be critical to address the consumer concerns such as cost, privacy, and ease of use.

6) Increasing attention from health-conscious consumers: From smart wristwatches that record heart rates to intelligent bands that track physical activities; wearable technology in the form of fitness monitoring devices attract increasing attention from health-conscious consumers The two main purposes of wearable technology are to monitor various bodily markers and to keep the user connected to the digital world by syncing to parent electronic devices such as smartphones. Within the former, some wearable devices can also compute data gained from the markers they monitor and take actions such as drug delivery in response.

7) Emerging Value Propositions: Many leading companies have already launched smartwatches and wrist bands. It is expected that with major companies foraying into the market such as Apple and Samsung, the look and feel for wearables would increase immensely. Wristband providers are experimenting with how to compete with smartwatches and take market share from the market leader, Fitbit. Examples of emerging value propositions for wristbands beyond fitness include mobile payments, access, safety, wellness and health.

8) Fitness wearables: Include wristbands, smart garments, chest straps, sports watches and other fitness monitors continue to increase in popularity, driven in some part by U.S. wellness programs. In 2016, looking forward smartwatches will have stronger appeal with consumers as they typically have more multifunctional devices that can track exercise.

9) Bringing New Technologies: As trust is a key concern with consumers in the wearables space, enterprises will need to be consistently transparent with what they do with data and how they use it. The technology is based on organic electronics and makes possible the manufacture of flexible displays and sensors. It has applications in a wide range of consumer products including wearables and mobile devices, and industries including automotive, biometrics and healthcare. This technology is not limited to wearable devices. It can be integrated into mobile devices, car interiors, digital signage and other applications that will benefit from creative designs, more functionality and unbreakable screens.

10) Embrace Wearable Technology: To effectively embrace wearable technology, businesses must put the user at the center of the activity, reshaping an entire enterprise and its capabilities system around the customer or user experience. Currently, wearable technology is mostly limited to the wrist, but thanks to flexible electronics it can be transferred to almost any other surface such as clothing, accessories and shoes. From devices and apps that help you track heart rate and food consumption details to gadgets that monitor your mood and even surrounding air, the “quantified self” is a reality for the everyday person.

In Closing,

To effectively embrace wearable technology, businesses must put the user at the center of the activity, reshaping an entire enterprise and its capabilities system around the customer or user experience. I saw a product which not only tells the time, but it has a connected GPS, Fitbit says it will monitor your heart rate and lets you oversee your phone’s music, calendar, texts and caller ID. Enables you from smart shoes that purport to advise you on your “foot strike zone” to a wearable that checks your pulse during workouts. Large-scale investigations using data collected from millions of wearable devices will provide valuable insights that could help cure or manage major diseases. These studies have been made possible because of the advanced gyroscopes, accelerometers, barometers and other sensors contained in modern wearable devices and smartphones.

As market analyst and research firm CSC Insight says sales of wearables will grow from 29 million in 2014 to 172 million in 2018, with a spike in 2015. Fitbit and Jawbone will continue to dominate the wearables market. They expect sales of fitness and activity devices to double in 2016 to 40 million units. The overall market for wearable technology is expected to reach USD 31.27 Billion by 2020, at a CAGR of 17.8% between 2015 and 2020. As with any digital strategy, adopting wearable technology requires taking the long view. It’s looking down a path on which IT is a driving force, directly impacting the technology industry. Wearable tech products are increasingly being designed with business applications in mind, with the promise of improving workplace productivity and the overall efficiency of organizations.

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