Wearable devices, though popular among the young, are not being used so much by the older generations. Of those who are using, most seem to be doing so to control obesity and to keep a tab on the exercise they do. However, wearable devices can do a lot more, the discovery of which is likely to make them much more popular in coming years.
With technology progressing day by day, wearables are becoming an essential part of our lives. The modern sophisticated devices are equipped with smart sensors and are capable of using the Internet for exchange of data. Emerging as a lifestyle, the devices are being made for wearing on various parts of our body. Some examples are, smartwatches, head-mounted displays, smart clothing, ear-phones, body-worn fitness trackers, cameras, exoskeletons, and medical devices.
A wearable medical or healthcare device is used for tracking a user’s vital signs or data related to health and fitness. As we move towards an even more technology-oriented world and improved connectivity, these devices are expected to be ubiquitous. Though these devices are gaining popularity globally with certain segments of the population, such as the fitness-oriented consumer, the market within India is still at a nascent stage.
Wearable healthcare devices appear to be one of the newest frontiers of innovation and development. Major types of such wearables include fitness trackers, smartwatches, ECG monitors, blood pressure monitors, biosensors and sugar-level monitors, ear-worn devices, head-mounted VR devices, and smart clothing. The wearable devices’ market is differentiated by product type, end-use industry (industrial, media and entertainment), and connectivity medium.
Growth of the wearable market
Technology advancements, decreasing price of manufacture, augmented health awareness, small size and ease of use, and large brands associating with the wearables are some of the pivotal factors pushing the growth of wearable technology. A lot of industries such as healthcare, defence, entertainment, and others have adopted this wearable technology. But consumers are generally familiar with only activity trackers and smartwatches, which are supposed to provide them health benefits.
As obesity has become a major issue in many regions, people are buying wearable devices for healthcare and fitness-related data. However, these devices are also popular with teenagers and those in their twenties, who don them more for style statement than healthcare.
Internationally, style, fashion, and convenience are some of the factors and user preferences that are contributing to the growth of wearables. Most OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) have understood these factors and are therefore introducing numerous devices from time to time in various price segments, based on requirements in the market. The Internet of medical things (iOMT) is an emerging segment, which is expected to grow at a significantly high rate in next few years. Market research indicates that the global market of medical wearable technology will be worth $8 billion this year.
According to market research agency IDC India, the Indian market for wearable devices grew 30.9 per cent in 2019. Apple, Samsung, and Fossil emerged as the most popular wearable brands in India last year. The industry is on track for a 25.8 per cent yearly increase in sales volume, having produced about 255 million units in 2019, according to an estimate.
The global market of wearables is witnessing 82.3 per cent growth, and it reached a new high of 118.9 million devices in the fourth quarter of 2019 according to another estimate. In the coming years, it is the healthcare sector that is expected to drive the entire wearable devices and technology market, which is also because there is a huge availability of cutting-edge products for health and fitness care.
The wearables technology is constantly evolving, with new products and features faster than ever. But this technology is still in transition stage and improving every day. There are lot of expectations from wearables.
The biggest challenge facing wearables is to include new health-monitoring features in a small form factor that one can wear on wrist. Apart from the wristwear, other form factors haven’t grown much.
But the market leaders of smartwatches are expected to be challenged in the next few years. Some experts believe that the ear-worn devices could become more popular than smartwatches in coming years, especially given the success of products such as Apple’s AirPods and Samsung’s IconX.
Also, as the market is dealing with preventive healthcare, it needs to go through many regulatory approvals. Currently, the wearables market needs attention from all major tech and health players as it requires a significant investment in research and development to make these devices relevant to a larger audience. As these players add new use cases, users will be more dependent on this form factor, and it will be difficult to opt-out from their life.
Future of wearable technology
In the coming years, the smartwatch segment is likely to witness lot of technology advancement and keep leading the overall segment of the wearable devices’ market. According to an industry expert, traditional smartwatches’ market share could reach 20 per cent of the consumer goods by the end of 2022 with more fashionable and stylish products.
According to some reports, the global wearable devices market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 11.3 per cent from 2019 to 2025 and reach US$ 62.82 billion by 2025. According to Mordor Intelligence, the smart wearable market was at 216.18 million sold units in 2019 and is expected to reach 614.31 million units by 2025.