Wearable Tech: Hot or Not?
Photo: Intel Free Press
Startups and Fortune 500 companies alike are showcasing their wearable technology products this year: Smart socks, glasses, watches and jewelry; personal assistant headsets; toddler and pet trackers; and fitness tracking wristbands and ear buds, to name a few.
Currently, most wearable tech devices are targeting the fitness industry. According to one report (NPD Group), the digital fitness device market was worth $330 million in 2013.
Investors are watching this market closely and have many questions. Is wearable tech just a passing fancy? Will it take off like the smart phone? Will it be constrained to niche markets? What impact will this technology have on consumers?
What are the Analyst Predictions?
Since the wearable tech industry is in its infancy, analyst predictions vary widely.
U.K.-based Juniper Research projects the number of wearable devices shipped will rise from about 13 million in 2013 to 130 million in 2018, and that the size of the market will jump from $1.4 billion in 2013 to $19 billion in 2018. Business Insider Intelligence projects shipments of 100 million pieces in 2014 and believes the market will ultimately be worth about $12 billion per year.
Wearable tech affords companies the opportunity to develop a new class of products – to shake up the market.
What do Consumers Think of Wearable Tech?
According to a recent survey of 1000 adults ages 18 and over, conducted by Wakefield Research and Citrix, consumers believe that one day wearable technology will be as ubiquitous as smart phones. The caveat is that the majority of the consumers that contributed to the research want their wearable tech to be subtle and blend with everyday wear.
A Brief History of Wearable Tech
Wearable technology could be considered a response to the evolution of ubiquitous computing, wearable computers and sousveillance. Ubiquitous computing is an advanced computing concept where computing is available anywhere and everywhere – in any device, location and format. Ubiquitous computing integrates human factors, computer science, engineering, and social sciences and is known as the third wave in computing. Wearable computing represents the field of miniature devices developed to be worn under, on top or combined with clothing. Wearable computers are especially useful for applications that require more complex computational support. Sousveillance is the recording of an activity by a participant typically by small wearable or portable personal computers.
Since more companies are coming forward with their prototypes, implementations of wearable technology are sure to change based on consumer adoption. What is your opinion of wearable tech? Where do you see wearable tech in terms of adoption in five years? Your opinion matters, we’d like to hear from you.