Have you noticed how the hype around wearable technology has died down lately? A couple of years ago you couldn’t move for some expert predicting that we’d all be talking into our jackets and lighting up the room with our jeans.
So has wearable tech gone from being the Next Big Thing to Yesterday’s Thing? Not at all, in fact a new report shows how its NBT status has evolved to make it a much more nuanced market and one that’s set to grow fast.
The wearable tech market is currently worth around $30bn but will hit $160bn in the next 10 years, the report from IDTechEx says. On the way, it’ll be worth $40bn in the next two years and $100bn by 2023.
Not that it’s going to achieve all that just on the back of the fitness trackers and smartwatches that currently dominate the market. After all, the former category has proved popular but prices are relatively low, while the latter hasn’t exactly grabbed mass consumer imagination just yet.
What’s needed is for wearables to expand into other areas of our lives and IDTechEx says it will do just that. It believes there will be almost 40 product sub-categories in the next 10 years, including fitness trackers, smartwatches, connected clothing, smart eyewear (particularly important because of Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality), medical devices, smart patches, headphones, and hearing devices.
At the moment, just about every wearable tech device relies on a smartphone to act as the hub, and it will continue to do so for some time. But IDTechEx also says that “all of the largest manufacturers now look to a future, where the hub itself may become wearable.”
We’re already seeing some signs of this with devices like Samsung’s Gear S2 not relying on a smartphone to make calls and Google’s upcoming Android Wear 2.0 having more independent functionality too.
Report author James Hayward said: “Fuelled by a frenzy of hype, funding and global interest, wearable technology was catapulted to the top of the agenda for companies spanning the entire value chain and world.
“This investment manifested in hundreds of new products and extensive tailored R&D investigating relevant technology areas. However, the fickle nature of hype is beginning to show, and many companies are now progressing beyond discussing wearables to focus on the detailed and varied sub-sectors.”
So what does all that mean for the future? Well based on those sub-categories that IDTechEx lists, we still won’t be talking into our jackets or lighting up room with our jeans in the next decade. But it does seem than wearable tech will work its way into our lives in so many different areas. And who knows? One day we might all feel that we rally do need a smartwatch!