Smart Clothes to Become Biggest Wearables Sector By 2016
A new report by Gartner has predicted that the currently negligible sector of smart garments will storm past smart watches and fitness bands to become the bestselling area of the wearables industry by 2016. Elsewhere in the report, the firm expects that smart watches will become the number one area in 2015, overtaking the 2014 joint leaders – fitness bands and other fitness monitors.
2014 has actually seen a slight decrease in the number of units shipped, down to 70.3 million from 73.01 million in 2013. Of those 70 million, there were 20 million fitness bands (-10 million compared to 2013) 18 million fitness monitors (+2 million), 18 million smart watches (+4 million) and 12 million chest straps (+1 million). Gartner expect the total units sold will drop again in 2015 – down to 68 million – before increasing by in excess of 20 million to 91.3 million in 2016.
Gartner state that the decreasing amount of sales is due to “an overlap in functionality between smart wristbands, other wearable fitness monitors and smartwatches”. They are not concerned, however, and do not believe the decrease to be a long term trend. They predict that the market for smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will explode in 2016 – primarily because of new, versatile designs and different models with lower-cost displays.
Angela McIntyre, Research Director at the firm said, “Smartwatches having retail prices of $149 or more will typically have the capability to track activity and have accelerometers and gyroscopes similar to their smart wristband cousins. The smartwatches differ from smart wristbands in that smartwatches need to display the time and have a user interface oriented around communication. However, some smart wristbands have the ability to display and send text messages. The overlap in functionality between smart wristbands and smartwatches is expected to continue.”
It is the stunning growth of smart garments which will steal the headlines though. In 2013 there were just 0.01 million units shipped, this jumped to 0.1 million in 2014, and is expected to leap to 10.1 million and then 26 million in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
The reason for their growth is due to the category’s emergence from the testing phase. This emergence means smart garments are now becoming available to, and being widely used by, athletes and coaches of professional teams.
Looking further into the future, Gartner see two emerging trends. Firstly, integration and cross-compatibility which will allow users to integrate data from most wearables into a single account where data can be analysed using cognizant computing will become common-place. Secondly, sales through non-retail channels will grow steadily, and by 2020 as many as 25 percent of smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will be sold through outlet such as gyms, wellness providers, insurance providers, weight loss clinics and employers.
What do you think about Gartner’s claims about smart garments? Let us know in the comments below.
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By Daniel Price