Tracking the health of the wearable technology market

Wearable wireless armbands by Fitbit shown during the 2014 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. ©AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR

Wearable wireless armbands by Fitbit shown during the 2014 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on January 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
©AFP PHOTO/JOE KLAMAR

(Relaxnews) – The latest forecasts peg device shipments at 90 million for the coming year but it will be health and fitness trackers, not Google Glass, that will be driving consumer demand.

In fact, in its latest report into the market, published Thursday, ABI Research makes it clear that the world isn’t quite ready for smart glasses. It states that devices like Google Glass, which are expected to launch over the course of 2014, will stimulate interest but “will not be a significant commercial success.”

The same can’t be said for health and fitness trackers, which have a clearly defined use case and are already carving out a market within consumer electronics.

“The next twelve months will be a critical period for the acceptance and adoption of wearable devices,” says senior analyst Joshua Flood. “Healthcare and sports and activity trackers are rapidly becoming mass-market products. On the flipside, wearable devices like smart watches need to overcome some critical obstacles. Aesthetic design, more compelling use cases, battery life and lower price points are the main inhibitors. How vendors approach these challenges and their respective solutions will affect the wearable market far in the future.”

As for the present, ABI forecasts that 2 million pairs of smart glasses will ship in 2014 and that demand for the devices will start to grow in the years ahead. At the same time, issues such as growing concerns over health, lifestyle, and in countries such as the US and UK, obesity, will see activity trackers make up the lion’s share of the remaining 88 million devices expected to ship.

Data published by Juniper Research in November estimates that 15 million health and fitness trackers are already in active use and that in terms of growing popularity, it pegs future shipments at 100 million devices a year by 2018.

ch/kc

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