Why Wearables Are Here to StayBy Samuel Greengard | Posted 07-20-2016
Wearables are rapidly advancing from the realm of science fiction into everyday use. We're seeing a proliferation of smart watches, fitness trackers, smart glasses, smart clothing, body sensors, wearable cameras, and other wearable devices for consumer, enterprise, healthcare, industrial, public safety, sports, and other markets.
A report from consulting firm Tractica sheds a light on this space. It notes that despite ups and downs--as well as a good deal of hype--the wearables market is growing and evolving. Overall, the market achieved higher-than-expected growth in 2015 and unit sales for fitness trackers and similar devices have doubled since 2014.
The Tractica report also noted that whereas fitness is the overwhelming driver for wearables today, a number of micro-segments are emerging. These include watches for children, smart footwear, elderly fall detectors and other systems. The overall trend is for devices to move from today's smartphones to the body, it noted.
The reality is that while many of these devices remain in nascent stages (the Apple Watch and Samsung smartwatches haven't come close to selling at the levels analysts had predicted, for example), a broad trend is nevertheless taking shape. Over the next decade, adoption rates will continue to rise, new capabilities will emerge and enterprise and personal computing will evolve further.
CIOs must tune into this evolving space and, at the very minimum, keep an eye on how things play out. While there's no need to position a company on the bleeding edge of the technology curve, there's a clear need to adapt. A separate IDC survey reported a 171 percent increase in wearable shipments in 2015. This totals 78 million devices overall.
"Wearables are not just for technophiles and early adopters," noted IDC analyst Ramon Llamas.
IDC also found that design and styling matter to consumers. Those likely to purchase wearables are tech savvy, hyper-social and style conscious. An overwhelming 89 percent said they are comfortable with technology and 69 percent reported that technology plays a big role in their life. Moreover, 54 percent admitted that they suffer from FOMO, which is better known as fear of missing out.
In fact, 71 percent said they are interested in owning a smartwatch, 63 percent said they desire a fitness tracking, 18 percent wanted eyewear or a heads-up display and 24 percent seek smart clothing.
Meanwhile, smart goggles, body sensors and smart clothing are beginning to appear in the workplace.
The takeaway? Smartphones, tablets and other devices aren't going away. But the crazy ride into the digital future is about to become even more complex. Both opportunities and challenges await.