The market for sensors used in wearable technology is set to grow sevenfold over the next five years, according to IHS Technology. The new report, entitled “MEMS & Sensors for Wearables Report – 2014,” notes fitness and health monitoring features as well as improved user interfaces among key drivers fueling this growth.
The research firm stated the worldwide market for sensors in wearables will expand to 466 million units in 2019, up from 67 million in 2013, while shipments of sensors will climb much more quickly than the market for the wearable devices themselves. As the report reveals, wearable devices are expected to increase to 135 million units in 2019, just shy of three times the total of 50 million in 2013.
“Wearables are a hotbed for sensors, with market growth driven by the increasing number of these components in each product sold,” explained Jeremie Bouchaud, IHS Technology Senior Principal Analyst. “The main factor propelling this phenomenon is a transition in market share away from simple products like pedometers and toward more sophisticated multipurpose devices such as smartwatches and smartglasses. Instead of using a single sensor like the simpler devices, the more complex products employ numerous components for health and activity monitoring, as well as for their more advanced user interfaces.”
This comes as great news for makers of motion sensors like gyroscopes and accelerometers, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), sensors driving user interfaces, and health and environmental sensors, In fact, IHS predicted the average wearable device shipped in 2019 to encompass 4.1 sensor elements, a rise from just 1.4 in 2013.
IHS shared that smartphones brands are becoming increasingly aware that wearables are a better platform for some types of sensors than mobile handsets; in addition, the firm expects components such as humidity and pulse sensors to move from handsets to wearable devices.
“The use of these types of sensors reflects consumer preferences that are propelling the growth of the wearables market,” Bouchaud said. “Users want health and fitness monitoring, and they want wearable devices that act as extensions of their smartphones. However, there’s no real demand from consumers for environmental sensors. Instead, the rising adoption of environmental sensors such as humidity and UV devices is being pushed by both sensor suppliers and wearable original equipment manufacturers (OEM).”
The market for sensors in wearables will undergo a major acceleration next year as shipments of the Apple Watch commence. Overall wearable sensor shipments will double in 2014; shipments of sensors for smartwatches will surge by nearly 600%.
“Similar to the iPhone and iPad, IHS expects the Apple Watch will set a de facto standard for sensor specifications in smartwatches. Most other wearable OEMs will follow Apple’s lead in using these four devices—or will add even more sensors to differentiate,” Bouchaud explained.
IHS goes on to reveal that fitness and heart rate monitors, along with foot pods and pedometers, led the wearable market in terms of sensor shipments in 2013. However, smartwatches will take the top position starting next year and will maintain dominance through 2019.
As this report highlights, embedded wearable technology isn’t going away anytime soon. Sensors are everywhere and are being designed into everything in the connected world. The requirements are moving from simple monitoring to full interpretation of the devices state and situation. Many of these tasks require the simultaneous analysis and fusion of data from different sensors and sensor types. These can include motion sensors (accelerometers and gyroscopes), environment sensors (temperature, pressure and humidity) and many others mentioned by IHS. To simplify enabling these systems, Atmel has partnered with the leading sensor manufacturers and sensor fusion specialists to provide a complete, easy-to-implement Sensor Hub Solution.
Interested in reading more? You can access the entire IHS Research report here.