Three markets will drive the wearable industry

“Three device types are expected to successfully reach the market: smartwatch, smart glasses/HUD, and smart clothing,” announced Yole Développement (Yole) in its Sensors for Wearable Electronics & Mobile Healthcare report released in July. Yole’s analysts explain wearable is, without doubts, a promising industry. But, who will take benefit of this attracting market, growing from US$22 billion in 2015 to more than US$ 90 billion by 2020?

“Smart glasses and HUD are expected to hit the market with high volumes around 2019. Specific to the consumer market, it’s evolved with two device types,” said Guillaume Girardin, Technology & Market Analyst at Yole. “The first type are wrist-worn devices that target the healthcare and consumer markets,” he added.

It started many years ago, with wrist-worn devices from players like Polar, Suunto, and Garmin, operating in a niche market: sports. Another wave of smart bands appeared in 2008, fueled by new players like Fitbit and Jawbone; this new generation mimics the smartphone approach in that they use MEMS technologies to reduce size, increase performance and decrease power consumption. These smart devices were only able to track and digitalize the body’s real time activity via an accelerometer, which delivered little added value to the customer.

Moreover, some technical and reliability issues led to a chaotic experience for the first batch of customers. Recently, a new tech wave occurred three years ago with players like Samsung and Pebble pushing the smartwatch market, but they failed to reach a mass market due to a one-sided technological approach.

”Apple, the latest entrant in the wearable landscape with its Apple watch, is expected to sell between 16 and 20 million units this year,” said Guillaume from Yole. “Apple’s production would quadruple the total number of devices that its competitors sold last year: 4.7 million units in 2014.”

Why could the Apple watch achieve success? In its wearable electronics report, Yole’s experts identified and analyzed the main factors: mature technology, ecosystem, and marketing.

Regarding the industrial market, Yole’s believes that smart glasses/HUD and smart clothing will be well-suited for industrial and military applications. Virtual reality HUD and smart clothing will enhance workers’ and soldiers’ capabilities, increasing productivity and security. Such a market is evaluated at around $4 billion by 2020, according to Yole.

Smart glasses and HUD are expected to hit the market with high volumes around 2019

Fig 1

Fig 1

Wearable is certainly a promising industry – but who will profit? Wearable electronics’ market value is likely to grow from $22 billion in 2015 to more than $90 billion by 2020, with a CAGR of 28 percent. All these evolutions will probably lead to a mass market adoption, here Yole expects more than 134 million, smartwatches by 2020, along with 1.3 million smart glasses/HUD by 2018. In this report, Yole analyzes the current wearable industry, what the landscape is like, who the key players, and how the industry will evolve.

The wearable industry greatly interests big companies seeking a new revenue source once the smartphone business levels off. “Sensors for Wearable Electronics & Mobile Healthcare” report from Yole highlights the expected sensors as of today, and the upcoming technologies which can sustain such developments.


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