According to IMS Research wearable technology sales are expected to grow from 96 million devices in 2012 to 210 million devices by 2018, creating a $30 billion market.
ABI Research is even more optimistic, predicting a 2018 market of as many as 485 million wearable devices. Core market segments driving all this wearables growth include healthcare, fitness, infotainment, industrial and military.
Major wearable tech categories for consumers include:
- Activity trackers – Of all wearable technology devices, 61% are fitness related. Arguably the best-known brand in this emerging segment is Fitbit, whose Fitbit Classic was launched in September 2008. That device, a clip-on, has been largely subsumed by the popularity of bracelet-type trackers, like Fitbit Force, Jawbone UP and Nike FuelBand.
- Augmented reality – No product category has done more to propel wearables than Google Glass, a product that even at its lofty developer price of $1,500 has garnered a huge amount of publicity. The technical description for Google Glass is a wearable computer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). Early applications include fitness, real estate, shopping and healthcare.
- E-wear – Smart clothing, or e-wear, as we like to call it, is exemplified by Sensoria’s Smart Fitness Socks, which is actually a clip-on that is connected to a pair of socks. As more advanced sciences begin to offer the opportunity to interweave technologies within fabrics, expect this segment to take off.
- Smartwatches – This wearables segment was trailblazed by the Pebble Smartwatch, a project that was auspiciously supported by a $10.3 million Kickstarter project. Pebble’s limelight will not last long now that the Samsung Gear smartwatch has launched, while Apple is also rumored to be entering the marketing soon. One out of five of U.S. consumers, or 20%, are “very interested” or “somewhat interested” in buying some type of smartwatch, reports Harris Interactive.
Of all wearable technology devices, smartwatches from Apple and Google are expected to push the innovation envelope the most. A watch that includes social media updates? We’ll take one!