We recently examined Apple’s strategy for gaining home automation market share, and the concept of digital assistants reared its head.
Why are we referencing apples strategic goals when we’re looking at the present state of wearable smart home devices?
Well, a recent IDC report forecasts that wearables will grow
by over 15% equating to 198.5 million units shipped worldwide by the end of
this year and is projected to hit 279 million by 2023.
Why is this?
Data Corporation Forecasts Explosive Growth and Change in Wearable Sector
Digital assistants migrating to
wearables is one of the primary reasons put forward by IDC for this aggressive
and continued penetration into the connected home:
“The integration of [smart assistants] with
wearables opens up new use cases…to tie into the smart home.” – Jitesh
Ubrani, Mobile Device Trackers (IDC)
Ubrani points to both wrist-worn and ear-worn wearables with smart assistants being a trend worth watching for.
Ramon T Llamas, the research
director for IDC’s Wearables section also flags enterprise adoption and
healthcare as “major drivers for the wearables market.”
Llamas suggests wearables will be
pivotal to digital health, both in terms of data collection and
In the business landscape, Llamas
flags the accelerated transmission of information as a key to workers
completing their tasks more rapidly along with streamlined processes.
- Key Takeaway: Digital assistants on wearables along with their use for healthcare and enterprise will continue to drive them further forward
The Evolution of
Wearables: From Basic Wearables to Smarter Wearables
Fundamental to this continued growth is the way wearables
are soon to shift from more basic devices to far smarter alternatives.
Forecast data from IDC carves up the wearables sector market
share for 2019 as follows:
- Watches: 45.6%
- Earwear: 27.4%
- Wristbands: 24.7%
- Clothing: 1.5%
- Others: 0.8%
Right now, some smart watches allow you to control lights
and thermostats in your connected home.
Fitness trackers are offering more and more insight into
stress levels and capable of tracking breathing exercises and meditation as
methods of alleviating this stress.
How, then, will these various categories evolve in the
We’ll take a more in-depth look into each category to see how things might pan out but before that let us take a glimpse forward to projections for 2023 market share.
- Watches: 47.1%
- Earwear: 31%
- Wristbands: 18.1%
- Clothing: 3.1%
- Others: 0.8%
As you can see, while smart watches are still slated to head
the wearables pack, earwear looks set to gobble up substantially more market
share. We’ll look at why that is after a walk through the changing role of
Smart watches have made a quantum leap in a short space of
Apple Watch was launched back in late 2015 and shifted over
4 million units in the second quarter of that year alone.
Now discontinued, we’re into the fourth iteration of this smartwatch, and it still holds on to by far the lion’s share of this market.
Apple is nudging 50% of market share with WatchOS. IDC
predicts that despite growing competition from WearOS and watches running a
forked version of Android, WatchOS will still account for 27.5% of all watches
For now, Apple still very much rules the roost.
With Apple Watch 4 set to release there are plenty of rumors about the fifth generation.
With the fourth series, it’s arguably the ECG capability
that’s most relevant to the future path these wearables will tread.
Medical-Grade Smart Watches
As evidenced in the IDC report, it’s the manifestation of
medical-grade smartwatches that might turn them from handy playthings to far
more useful pieces of kit.
Apple Watch kickstarted this trend with the FDA-certified capability of Watch 4 to administer an ECG and could help tip you off to any developing heart problems. Medical-grade data has the capability of being shared with your doctor.
Although not yet certified outside the US, Apple has nailed
its colors firmly to the mast here. Gone are the days of reckless gold-plated
limited editions and ushered in is a real focus on health and fitness.
This functionality is projected to launch in September 2019.
With any luck, the EU along with other territories will also obtain
certification for the EKG feature by then.
The workout app is also being tweaked continuously to
incorporate tracking for hiking and yoga. You can collect all the health data
you need on your Watch then look into it more deeply on the larger screen of
Fall detection is another essential addition to this series
of Watch and ideal for elderly relatives. It’s not just those advancing in
years who could benefit from this either. Do you have epilepsy? Are you prone
to seizures? If so, this is a valuable helping hand available at all times on
You’ll need a third-party sleep tracking app if you want to
make use of data in that field, but the battery on Watch is more than robust
enough to last the night. You can import all data directly into Apple’s Health
Since watches represent such a sizeable chunk of the growing
wearables sector, it’s not surprising that competitors have aggressively
entered the fray.
Equally unsurprisingly, many are focusing on the same medical and health aspect.
Samsung is likely to announce Galaxy Watch 2 this year and expected to hit the shelves in the fall
and remains to be seen whether Samsung will play follow the leader and
incorporate the medically-certified tech.
Garmin has partnered with ActiGraph. This health analysis
company specialized in sleep monitoring equipment and medical-grade activity
According to Garmin, this partnership will
“explore…innovative health and activity monitoring solutions” with Garmin
wearables combining with ActiGraph’s data analytics platform, CentrePoint.
It remains to be seen how this will pan out for the company’s smartwatches.
Google currently produces no proprietary wearables to save the Pixel Earbuds.
While the search giant develops WearOS, it does not currently make watches, but things could change.
Hiring for VP of hardware engineering, one of the prerequisites for candidates is 15 years in the saddle “developing consumer electronics products.” Advertising for other senior wearables staff, the writing is on the wall for a first-generation smartwatch from the mighty G sometime soon.
Headphones and Earwear
Projected to occupy a fractionally larger market share than
wristbands over the coming year, earwear, also known as hearables or ear-worn
devices, is likely to continue surging forward between now and 2023.
Wireless headphones are getting smarter and becoming
Predictions for the near-future include biometric sensors,
again tying in with the sustained importance of health on wearables.
Jabra Elite 85h headphones, announced at CES
2019, take noise cancellation to new levels. Packing AI and eight mics,
these cans will offer multiples modes suitable from commuting through complete
privacy. You’ll be able to choose from Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri baked
Translating devices are also another area where things will
keep on edging forward.
Waverly Labs Pilot earbuds started as a 2016 Indiegogo
campaign, and the $250 earbuds are now shipping to early adopters. Their stated
goal is to eliminate all language barriers through technology, invaluable in
our ever-shrinking global village.
While wristband market share is expected to dip by 2023,
over the coming year fitness trackers are still nipping hard at the heels of
Garmin leads the charge with Charge 3 now able to monitor a
widening array of health variables during the day and while you sleep.
That partnership with ActiGraph will lead to better
extrapolation of data and keener insights into health for you, the consumer.
“Combining data from Garmin wearables with the analytical expertise of
ActiGraph creates a powerful solution for patient monitoring applications.”
– Travis Johnson, Garmin Health
Since consumer wearables are much more comfortable than
traditional medical-grade devices, these devices tend to be worn for more
extended periods what this means is more data can be collected and better
Next-generation wristbands from Fitbit will feature more
intelligent algorithms, additional sensors, and sleep monitoring, a swelling
trend that shows no signs of abating.
As health spills over into wellness, wristbands will also
focus more on detecting mood and stress levels.
With wristbands in danger of falling away from the market
leaders in the wearables sector, it’s also highly likely they will pivot.
Expect more smartwatch features appearing on fitness trackers in a bid to
arrest this slide from favor.
We’ll only touch on connected clothing briefly since it’s a minor player in the wearables market.
Until now, step-counting shoes and the like have failed to gain much traction outside of the Chinese market, but things are perhaps changing.
Brands like Under Armour and the colossal Nike are
increasingly beginning to explore connected clothing. Hyper Adapt shoes with
self-tying laces have already come to market and mass adoption will bring the
eye-popping price tag down.
Google has also partnered with Levi’s to develop the
Commuter X, a denim jacket allowing you to control your phone using gestures.
You can expect more hook-ups between tech and fashion giants
as smart clothing technology evolves. Think Ralph Lauren’s self-heating jacket
and Julianna Bass’s color-changing dresses.
In line with IDC’s tip about enterprise applications, expect
connected clothing with commercial applications to grow in prominence. Keeping
workers safe from hazardous situations is always crucial for employers and
wearables are likely to move in this direction if the consumer side of things
doesn’t take off more thoroughly. Industrial and military adoption is expected
to happen before mass consumer adoption, but the future is glimmering for smart
clothing, even if it’s only in its infancy right now.
Here, the role of Japan is always central to the way things
The Japanese markets account for fully 1/3 of all smart
wearables, and the onus is always on bleeding-edge tech.
Although Other wearables account for only a minute market
share right now, how might things change in this area?
Well, flexible display technology, already in evidence on
folding phones from Samsung and Huawei is taking a new direction thanks to a
company you might not yet have heard of just yet.
Nubia first demoed the Alpha at CES 2019, but at MWC a few
more details came out concerning their wrist-worn smartphone.
Described as a “wearable smartphone,” the Alpha
boasts a 4-inch OLED display and comes with both Bluetooth and WiFi along with
a 5MP camera.
In many ways, the Alpha rolls the most attractive features
of smartwatches and fitness trackers together and lumps in the ability to make
calls, send messages and use the Internet.
Powered by a Snapdragon processor and running on a bespoke
OS, expect the Nubia Alpha to start shipping in April. Maybe this will presage
a new direction in smartphones but only time will tell.
Expect the same health focus to extend to pet wearables,
too. From tracking movements to tracking health, smart collars like the RAWR
are likely to gain further currency.
Other ways that other wearables might develop over the
coming years requires a crystal ball we don’t possess. As with all areas of
this sector, though the future looks enticing for you, the consumer as
manufacturers continue attempting to slice off more of this valuable pie.
We hope today has shown you clearly that wearables are more
than just needless gadgets.
You should also now have a sounder idea of how many wearable
techs is evolving in terms of home automation. As with every aspect of
domotics, exciting times loom as we edge closer to 2020.
Come back next week for more future-casting. We’ll be
looking at emerging trends for this coming year along with a glimpse at the
impact of smart home technology on real estate.
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