Wearables dominated by sports & healthcare

As the potential for smart wearable devices continues to draw new entrants into the market, it is the sports and healthcare functionality that currently dominates shipments and is expected to drive future wearable device adoption.

According to analysts at ABI Research, the most popular device functionality is heart rate monitoring – with close to 12 million devices shipped in 2013. These single function devices are designed to communicate with nearby hubs such as smartphones or activity sports watches.

Pedometers and activity trackers were the next two most popular devices, accounting for around 16 million devices combined in 2013.

“The market for wearable computing devices is driven by a growing range of wireless connected wearable sports, fitness and wellbeing devices,” confirmed Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research.

“Heart rate and activity monitors will outpace shipments of smart watches and glasses for some years to come and they will also provide the essential foundation for the development of the broader wearable market.”

Collins also noted that wearable devices will increasingly move into healthcare services over the next five years.

“Sports, fitness and wellness devices will increasingly be augmented by connectivity to the emerging number of smart watches and glasses devices that become available over the next five years,” he added.

“Likewise, general use wearable devices will increasingly support aspects of health monitoring. The interplay between health monitoring and wearable devices will be crucial in the development of both these markets.”

Canalys analyst Daniel Matte expressed similar sentiments about a related space earlier this week when he confirmed that wearable bands represented a massive opportunity in the medical and wellness segment.

“The wearable band market is really about the consumerization of health… There will be exciting innovations that disrupt the medical industry this year. With the increased awareness about personal well-being they will bring to users, having a computer on your wrist will become increasingly common,” he said. 

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