Wearable devices long been a panacea for the telecoms industry, but it is the medical industry, rather than consumer, that is driving the market.
A study by IMS Research shows far more manufacturers in the field of medical wearable technology than consumer products. The firm’s research found some 32 vendors producing kit in what it terms healthcare and medical devices – double the number manufacturing in the infotainment sector.
The second largest category also has a focus on healthcare. According to IMS, there are 20 manufacturers producing equipment for the fitness and wellbeing market. Industrial and military applications rank last, with eight vendors.
IMS Research senior analyst Theo Ahadome says wearable devices in the infotainment sector have yet to prove their usefulness when compared to smartphones and mobile applications. “Consumers may question the value of smart watches or smart glasses if they cannot do anything that their smartphone cannot do – apart from being wearable.”
Despite the trend towards medical equipment, the firm predicts wearable technology will take off in the next four years. It forecasts 170 million such devices will ship in 2016, as more big-name companies get on board. However, it notes success will depend on the size of the devices, how invasive the kit is, and its ability to measure multiple parameters and provide automated feedback.