We’re just weeks away from a breakout year for wearables, new research from Forrester has revealed.
“In 2015, wearables will hit mass market,” Forrester’s JP Gownder writes in the company’s most recent blog post. “With Apple’s much-anticipated Apple Watch slated for release early next year, the already hype-heavy conversation will reach new heights.”
The research firm joins other tech industry analysts in proclaiming 2015 as the pivotal year for wearable technology. If you recall, back in October, Gartner named the wearable space among the top strategic trends IT managers will have to contend with next year, along with big data and the burgeoning Internet of Things.
In its report, entitled “Five Urgent Truths About The Future Of Wearables That Every Leader Should Know,” Forrester expects the number of people using a wearable computer will triple in 2015, led by the highly-anticipated arrival of Apple Watch that is projected to draw 10 million users next year.
The study, which examined thousands of consumers in both U.S. and Europe, suggests more Americans (45%) can see themselves donning wearables than their European counterparts (32%).
“While wearables have indeed suffered from a hype bubble, demand for them is real. Yes, Nike’s walking away from Fuel Band, but Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and Salesforce.com all are making major commitments to the market.”
As to where consumers will likely adorn their bodies with wearable computers, many cite their wrists, clothes, shoes, ears and eyes as key areas. The report notes that the wrist appeals to over a third (42%) of consumers in both the U.S and Europe — even before the arrival of Apple’s latest device. This compared to 28% of adults last year. Gartner believes this may be a result of companies Fitbit, Samsung, Pebble, Jawbone and others that have begun educating the market about wrist-based wearables.
Meanwhile, smart garments — wearables embedded in, or clipped onto, clothing and shoes — show under-appreciated interest. In fact, fellow research firm Gartner believes the emergence of less invasive devices, particularly e-textiles will potentially disrupt the wearables space. So much so that embedded attire shipments will rise from a mere 0.1 million units in 2014 to 26 million units in 2016.
“Ralph Lauren debuted its Polo Tech smart shirt with OMSignal’s technology at the US Open, while Ducere’s Lechal uses haptic feedback to create screen-free GPS in smart shoes,” Gownder exemplifies.
Furthermore, smart earbuds, headphones and smart glasses are expected to rise in popularity. 43% of online U.S. adults have shared that they might be interested in intelligent eyewear, i.e. Google Glass, “if the price were right.”
The report also goes on to show that 10% of U.S. online adults say they’ve already used a wearable device, like a fitness tracker. However, it appears that figure will surely to rise, as nearly half (45%) of these adult consumers say they agree with the statement, “I am intrigued by the prospect of getting a wearable device.”
“And, while strong consumer interest exists for wearable devices, a bigger driver of demand is coming from businesses looking to supply employees with all types of new body gadgetry,” Reuters reports.
Take for instance, a recent Kronos and Harris poll found that 73% of workers believe that wearable technology can enhance their work environment and productivity in some way. Meanwhile, over two-thirds (68%) of business decision-makers polled by Forrester cited developing a wearables strategy for their business was now a priority.
“The wearable market will take off as brands, retailers, sports stadiums, healthcare companies, and others develop new business models to take advantage of wearables,” Gowdner urges.
Throughout the upcoming watershed year, we can expect to see the emergence of wearables to monitor the safety field workers, location-aware smartwatches to assist managers assign shift workers in real-time and video, as well as photo devices that augment the human insights of technical inspectors.
The research firm also anticipates that wearable devices will become increasingly collaborating, demonstrating how Thalmic Labs’ Myo gesture-controller armband could complement Google Glass, for example.
Interested in learning more? Gain deeper insight into each of the five urgent truths by downloading Forrester’s official report here.