Analysts at ABI Research expect 90 million wearable devices to ship in 2014. As senior analyst Joshua Flood notes, wearable tech will be characterized by a diversity of products, although only those with clear use-cases and target audiences are likely to succeed.
“The next 12 months will be a critical period for the acceptance and adoption of wearable devices. Healthcare and sports and activity trackers are rapidly becoming mass-market products,” the analyst explained.
“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.”
According to Flood, 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 offer 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,” he continued.
“Due to these limitations, the enterprise sector will be the early target for smart glasses before they are ready for mass-market adoption. [We] expect more than two million smart glasses [to] ship in 2014, [with] the category forecast to grow rapidly from 2015 onwards. Mobile enabling technologies like augmented reality will play a vital part in enhancing smart glass capabilities.”
Indeed, smart glasses and smart watches will account for a relatively small segment of the wearable device market in 2014, with medical, wellness and sports and activity wearable devices expected to 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,” Flood added.
“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.”