Wearable technology will be characterized by the diversity of products, but only the product categories with a clear use-case and therefore target audience will succeed. ABI Research projects the wearable device sales volumes in 2014 to come from healthcare and sports and activity trackers. While, the commercial launch of several smart glass products, including Google Glass will continue to drive interest in the wearable space, it will not be a significant commercial success in 2014.
“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.”
Chipset vendors are beginning to pave the way with interesting wearable reference designs that will allow non-technology OEMs and brands to quickly jump upon the wearable device bandwagon and bring diverse, innovative, unique, and stylish solutions.
While smart glasses could be the starting point moving away from today’s touchscreen smartphones to eyewear devices using a voice interface, pricing, battery life and style will all play crucial roles for market traction. Due to these limitations, the enterprise sector will be the early target for smart glasses before they are ready for mass-market adoption. ABI Research expects more than two million smart glasses will be shipped in 2014 and the category is forecast to grow rapidly from 2015 onwards. Mobile enabling technologies like augmented reality will play a vital part in enhancing smart glass capabilities.
Smart glasses and smart watches will account for a small portion of the wearable device market in 2014. Medical, wellness and sports and activity wearable devices will provide the bulk of wearable device shipments this year. Activity trackers will continue to be the most popular wearable device as people carefully monitor their activity levels and energy output. Concerns around weight management and even obesity are the prime drivers behind this wearable device type. The collection and analysis of the captured personal performance data through associated websites and their communities is also a crucial element in building out the use-case.