Emerging wearables, new data to rapidly grow in market share by 2021
Trifacta, a market intelligence firm, found in a new research report that the wearables market will soon see a rapid uptick in emerging wearable categories including body sensors, smart clothing, wearable cameras, smart glasses, and an increasing diversity of niche devices. And with these new wearables comes an almost infinite amount of new data.
"2015 was the biggest year for wearables by far, with fitness trackers outperforming industry expectations and smart watches coming out strong," said research director Aditya Kaul in the announcement of the report's release.
"While fitness is the overwhelming driver for wearables today, there are a number of micro-segments emerging, ranging from kids' watches to smart footwear to new healthcare devices like wearable patches, that will drive this market forward."
The report also found less cannibalization than expected from smart watches on the fitness tracker market, thus leading to stronger growth in fitness trackers than anticipated last year. However, that may change as traditional watchmakers start adding smart-watch components to their products.
My view: The data from fitness trackers, whether as standalone products or incorporated as an element in smart watches and other wearables, is still not reliable enough for much more than casual consumer use. I think we'll see a much bigger uptick in the consumer wearables market when the data is more accurate to the point that clinical researchers, physicians, employers and other entities can reasonably rely on the information.
When that happens, consumer adoption of wearables will no longer be a personal option, but an insurance, medical, or employment requirement.
New niche wearables such as smart fabrics, including smart bed sheets, will see rapid adoption if the data collected by these things is also far more reliable than what we're seeing coming from wearables in general now.
There also need to be enterprise level at-the-edge analytics for many of these products and strong ecosystems, particularly in regards to app development and data selection capabilities, in order for wearables to see big adoption numbers in the enterprise and healthcare markets.