Wearable computing purports to be the next big thing in consumer technology products. Wearable or body-borne computers enable hands-free mobile real-time data monitoring, logic calculation and network communication. Until now, wearable computing products, or “wearables” as they are becoming known, have been a fringe market of curious devices that have been impractical, bulky and unaesthetic for consumer applications. Traditional markets for wearable devices have primarily been focused on non-consumer niche applications including those in healthcare, defense/security, enterprise and industrial markets. However, recent advances in materials sciences, electronics, photonics and software are enabling a potentially vast range of new lightweight, wearable computing products to emerge. These technology advances are not only growing traditional non-consumer markets but are also enabling a number of new consumer applications to emerge. Wearables are poised to go mainstream.
Consumer applications including wearable cameras, activity trackers, smart clothing, smart glasses, smart watches, augmented reality and gaming are expected to explode onto the market over the next few years. The global market for wearable devices is still at a relatively nascent stage and was only around 20 million units (or $800 million) in 2012. However, key technology drivers are now enabling wearable devices to enter mainstream markets. The global wearable computing market is set to rapidly grow into a multi-billion dollar industry over the next year.
The key market driver for wearable computing is the soaring global popularity of smartphones from manufacturers including Apple, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, HTC, Blackberry, Nokia and Microsoft. Last year nearly 700 million smartphones were shipped globally with the Apple iOS platform (~19%) and Google’s Android platform (~69%) accounting for the vast majority of market share. In terms of growth, the global market for smartphones increased by more than 40% annually to nearly $240 billion of revenues in 2012. The growth of the consumer market for wearables largely depends on how rapidly existing smartphone users will adopt wearable accessories and alternative devices to their smartphones.
Wearable computing devices have potential benefits for any environment where information or communication is desired, and the use of a hands-free interface is considered beneficial or essential. In addition to consumer products, many industry specific applications in markets such as defense, healthcare, manufacturing and mining are also emerging. The potential for wearables to transform many global consumer and non-consumer markets in previously unimaginable ways now appears very real. However the market is so new and rapidly evolving that accurate market forecasting is difficult. Recent market research reports from various research analysts vary wildly in their predicted forecasts for the wearable computing market. Juniper Research recently forecast market revenues to exceed $19 billion by 2018. In stark contrast, ABI Research recently forecast a $6 billion market size by 2018 while Credit Suisse forecast a market size of $30 billion in five years. Such major discrepancies between the various revenue forecasts can largely be attributed to differences in the definitions of product categories and market segments by the various analysts. This report is intended to be a more comprehensive and inclusive evaluation of all major product types and market segments across the entire wearable computing landscape.
STUDY GOALS AND OBJECTIVES
The goal of this market report is to evaluate recent technology developments, growth drivers, industry challenges and market trends in the global wearable computing market. Identifying the critical growth drivers for the various consumer and non-consumer market segments is a primary aim. For greater market clarity, it is important to develop accurate revenue forecasts for the global market from 2012 through to 2018. Analyzing market geography, key industry players and the patent landscape are additional goals. The primary objective of this systematic research is to quantify the projected impact of both internal and external forces that are affecting the wearable computing industry today, and that will affect the industry for the next several years.
REASONS FOR DOING THE STUDY
The impending explosion of the wearable computing market is one of the most interesting and highly anticipated developments taking place in the high-tech industry. The $3 billion wearable consumer market is intrinsically linked with the $240+ billion smartphone market. Wearables will not only integrate with smartphone technology but may ultimately replace them in many consumer environments. The key players in the smartphone industry will also play key roles in the wearable consumer market. Other applications will attract interest and investment from non-smartphone industries such as fashion, gaming, healthcare, manufacturing, security and logistics. The potential for wide-ranging disruption and change across multiple industries make it pertinent to comment on current market and technological trends in wearable computing, as well as to assess potential breakthroughs and market developments in the near future.
SCOPE OF REPORT
The scope of this report is broad and covers several product areas and market segments. Global market trends are analyzed with global market revenue data from 2012, estimates for 2013 and 2014, and projections of compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) through 2018. The report discusses recent technological advances in materials sciences, electronics, photonics and software that are enabling a potentially vast range of new lightweight, wearable computing products to emerge.
The history and current state of the wearable computing market is reviewed and the types of devices available are discussed. An analysis of the industry structure, including major companies and market shares, and major markets and market drivers is made. This includes an examination of the consumer markets (wearable cameras, sports and activity trackers, smart clothing and textiles, smart glasses, smart watches, entertainment and gaming) and non-consumer markets (healthcare, defense, security, enterprise, industrial, warehouse and logistics). Likely future industry developments are discussed and the future evolution of the technology is predicted. Patent evaluation, including coverage of the current state of technology, new patent applications, and newly issued patents is also included.
The intended audience for this report includes developers, manufacturers, providers, suppliers, users, customers, commentators, analysts and investors in the following products, markets and industries:
- Wearable computing devices and accessories.
- Smartphones, tablets and personal computers.
- Augmented and virtual reality platforms.
- Semiconductors and micro-computer components.
- Photonics and optical components.
- Mobile and wireless communications devices.
- Sports clothing, fashion clothing and general apparel.
- Sports, fitness and exercise equipment.
- Healthcare industry including remote health monitoring.
- Aged care, patient care and child care industries.
- Military and security systems and equipment.
- Aerospace and defense contractors.
- Mobile enterprise and retail management.
- Multimedia marketing and gaming industries.
- Mobile wireless network operators.
- Cloud services, big data services and internet service providers.
- Software application developers for mobile platforms and smartphones.
- Computer game and software simulation developers.
- Multimedia and video content developers.
- Consumer electronics merchandisers and vendors.
METHODOLOGY AND INFORMATION SOURCES
Both primary and secondary research sources were used in preparing this study. Primary sources of information included key contacts at leading market players, as well as end users. Secondary information sources included both printed publications and online resources. These include previously published market research reports, corporate documents, technology white papers, public company disclosure statements, press releases, patent documents and assorted industry reference sources.
Market size estimates were obtained by performing a detailed analysis and company forecast projections for 82 manufacturers in the industry, using both top-down and bottom-up market analysis methodologies.
Adam Weigold is currently CEO of the SASM Institute (www.sasminstitute.com), a San Francisco-based technology incubator for innovative projects in science, art and social media. He has a Bachelor of Science from Adelaide University, Australia and a PhD in Physics from Macquarie University, Australia. He is a former Director of the Optical Society of Australia and has over 20 years of professional experience as a technology inventor, corporate level executive and business development manager in technology start-ups in both Australia and the U.S. Dr. Weigold has significant market experience in the areas of military lasers, medical devices, industrial automation, telecommunications, computer hardware, photonics, semiconductors, health services and social media. He is an author or co-author of eight issued patents and one pending patent application in the fields of photonic test and measurement, fiber-optic communications, computer bus platforms, medical devices and directed energy weapons.
BCC RESEARCH ONLINE SERVICES
The BCC Research website, located at www.bccresearch.com, enables visitors to:
- Conduct key word searches.
- Examine the complete BCC Research catalog of market research reports and place direct orders.
- Read announcements of recently published reports.
- View titles of near-term upcoming reports.
- Sign up to receive email notifications when reports are published in selected categories.
- Contact BCC Research for additional information.
The information developed in this report is intended to be as reliable as possible at the time of publication and is of a professional nature. This information does not constitute managerial, legal or accounting advice, nor should it be considered as a corporate policy guide, laboratory manual or an endorsement of any product, as much of the information is speculative in nature. BCC Research and the author assume no responsibility for any loss or damage that might result from reliance on the reported information or from its use.
Download Report Overview