Increasing demand for actionable, real-time data in a range of applications is driving strong demand for wearable technology. 14 million wearable devices were shipped in 2011; by 2016, wearable technology will represent a minimum revenue opportunity of $6 billion, according to World Market for Wearable Technology – A Quantitative Market Assessment – 2012, a new report from IMS Research [recently acquired by IHS (NYSE: IHS)].
Current wearable devices are concentrated around a few products mainly in the healthcare and medical, and fitness and wellness application areas. In these areas, there is a greater use-case for wearable technology in order to transmit data such as vital signs, and track user performance. Dominant wearable products here include continuous glucose monitors – such as from Abbott and Medtronic, activity monitors – such as Fitbit, Addidas miCoach and Nike Fuelband, and fitness and heart-rate monitors – such as from Garmin, Polar and Suunto.
|Figure 1. Wearable Technology by Application. The size of the bubble indicates relative market size.|
By 2016, the penetration of wearable technology in a number of current product categories is projected to rapidly increase as a wide range of new wearable devices are developed. According to IMS Research, new product areas where wearable technology will have strong impact include Smart Watches, Smart Glasses, Sleep Sensors, industrial and military heads-up displays and hand-worn terminals.
“A $6 billion market in 2016 is our most conservative forecast which assumes that the adoption of wearable technology will be limited by factors including lack of suitable technology, poor user compliance and lack of an overall enhanced experience from devices that are wearable as compared to non-wearable products. In our mid-range and upside projections, product introductions such as Google’s Smart Glasses and the rumoured Apple Smart Watch come to fruition and are successful. In addition, an increasingly self-aware consumer seeks more and more data on their health and fitness, leading to even more rapid expansion in the market for wearable technology”, commented Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IMS Research.