The mantra of mega companies like Qualcomm is to usher in a new era of “the internet of things.” Wearable tech such as smartwatches, wristbands and competitors of Google Glass is taking off in a big way. Close to 200 million bands like Fitbit were shipped out in the first half of 2013 the industry has grown by almost 500%.
“Samsung’s marketing and promotional efforts with the Galaxy Gear resulted in shipments of over 800,000 units in its first two months on sale, establishing the company as the new market leader,” said Chris Jones, VP and principal analyst at Canalys. “Pebble continues to grow rapidly with its smartwatch. iOS 7 integration and an updated SDK with additional APIs give Pebble’s partners a great opportunity to increase the watch’s appeal while maintaining its excellent battery life.”
“The market for smart wearables is extremely dynamic. This space is going to look very different in 12 months’ time,” noted Canalys analyst Daniel Matte. “A successful wearable device depends on the connectivity of a smartphone, which increasingly serves as the new digital hub for mobile users. Wearables entail a unique set of constraints for vendors and platform owners more experienced with the smartphone and tablet markets.”
Smartwatches and augmented reality glasses are in their infancy and there is no clear market leader in any of these segments. Likely 2014 will be a turning point and many growth opportunities will be available.
One of the barriers of wearable tech right now is battery life and screen technology. These components will need to be designed specifically for wearables, working alongside sensor hubs that help reduce power draw. The integration of new types of sensors not included in smartphones, such as those for heart rate monitoring, will be another important trend.