According to research from Juniper into wearable devices over the coming years, by the end of 2014 globally there will be 18 million smart fitness devices in use, with this figure trebling to over 70 million by 2018.
Shown in the chart above the majority of these will be located in Far East and China, followed by North America and Western Europe in top three, as found in the extract from Smart Health & Fitness Wearables Device Strategies, Trends & Forecasts 2014-2019.
The health and fitness sector has been the first to offer a range of wearable devices at a range of price and functionality, and has done since 2006 with companies like Nike and Sony entering early. Although with band abandonment estimated as high as 30% after six months, the pressure is on for manufacturers to make their products more essential to daily life.
Juniper expects “fitness to remain the dominant wearables segment until , driven by intuitive use cases and lower retail prices,” according to the report, by which point smart watches will have grown in appeal and capability.
The dominance of fitness in this area means that time to market for apps and devices is usually held up by health-service regulations. When medical approval is not needed more apps are being used by patients instead visiting a healthcare professional (HCP). “Where wearable devices are included, they can provide data for use by the HCP to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of a variety of conditions,” the report notes. Although this is yet to move beyond sharing individual patient records with their HCP because of the regulations in place.
Outside of sensors in watches and bands, an emerging space is sensors in clothing, often this is confined to sports clothing where heart-rate, respiration and temperature is monitored to increase performance. Other alternatives of sensors in clothing are found in Mimo’s smart baby grows, and payment structures in M.J. Bale’s Power Suit. Although at the moment this is still very much an emerging trend.