Wearable technology consists of clothing and accessories fitted with computers capable of recording and communicating information with other devices. Although wearable technology is presently mainly used for sports and fitness, we can expect to see widespread adoption from other industries in the coming years. Industries including healthcare, education and finance are exploring what this technology has to offer, driving growth and resulting in a market value of USD 40 billion by 2020.
What are Wearables?
Wearable technology is a garment or accessory embedded with electronics, sensors, software and connectivity. Such items are part of the Internet of Things (IoT), a network of devices, machines and objects designed to collect and communicate data independent of human interaction. For example, an activity tracker records the distance travelled when jogging and forwards this data to your phone for review.
Sport & Fitness
With a forecast value of USD 12.44 billion by 2022, the market for wearable fitness technology will continue to be one of the key segments of the overall wearable devices market. An increasing awareness about fitness, a rise in disposable incomes in developing economies and a consumer preference for sophisticated wearable devices is driving growth in this market segment.
Performance watches, sensors and wearable apparel technology are revolutionizing the world of sports and enabling a greater level of athlete analysis than previously possible. These devices provide accurate biometrics analysis of an athlete’s joints, muscles, heart, respiratory system, cadence, and endurance, offering a greater range of in-depth data and ultimately improving athlete management.
Recreational fitness consumers and corporate wellness programs are also benefiting from the level of detail wearable technologies offer, as this data can be used to monitor fitness levels, determine suitable training programs, identify performance areas with room for improvement and prevent injuries.
A good example of wearable fitness technology is Samsung’s new Gear Fit2 wristband. The device is able to function without phone connectivity and comes with features such as GPS tracking, sleep tracking and exercise based features including a heart rate monitor.
Wearable technology is having a massive impact on the healthcare industry, enabling greater diagnosis and patient care while providing more comprehensive condition monitoring. Healthcare applications of wearable devices include remote patient monitoring, the treatment of chronic disease, elder care and wellness programs. Fitness trackers and smartwatches are being utilized, but we can expect to see emerging categories such as pain management devices, wearable patches, posture monitors and wrist devices among others. The global healthcare wearables market is expected to be worth USD 17.8 billion by 2021, with heavy investment from technological and healthcare providers spurring on growth.
Two such investors are Royal Philips and Pegasystems, who have partnered with the goal of helping managed care services and accountable care organizations make the most of the health data they acquire from connected devices. The Pega Care Management Application paired with the Philips HealthSuite Cloud platform enables caregivers to instantaneously address the current health status of a patient using remotely managed care via connected health applications. The technology increases care quality while also decreasing hospital readmissions and lowering costs.
A key growth driver in the education wearables technology market is improved student engagement. The digitalization of education has seen schools and institutions adopt digital devices and tools such as tablets and e-learning modules, resulting in greater student engagement than traditional methods. Wearable technologies enable student engagement in ways that were previously not possible. For example, Google Glass enables students to create their own first-person videos and participate in unique point-of-view experiences. Similarly, VR devices such as the Oculus Rift allow students to participate in experimental learning, transporting them to virtual 3D environments that offer an unprecedented level of interactivity.
The global classroom wearables technology market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 36.57% by 2020, with telecommunication operators, device manufacturers and application providers all hoping to dominate the market with their innovative products.
Wearable devices are transforming the payment process. Devices like the Apple Watch, Jawbone UP4 and the Lyle & Scott bPay Jacket allow users to link their debit or credit card to the device and pay for items in store by simply swiping the device over a contactless payment receiver. This technology is easy to implement, and it speeds up transactions while adding an extra level of security. It’s more convenient for both the user and retailer as it eliminates the need for cash and keeps all transactions digital. The wearable payments segment of the market is expected to see sustained growth in the coming years, with finance service providers like MasterCard and Android Pay developing their own wearable payment technology.
As one of the fastest growing segments of the Internet of Things, wearable technology is set to change a large range of industries for the better. From in-depth fitness performance analysis to experimental learning, wearable technology improves the various processes of different markets through ingenious and innovative means. As the wearable technology market continues to grow at an impressive rate, we can only guess as to which industries will adopt these devices next.
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