It’s not hard to see why Google’s project glass has received so much attention. Can you imagine living in an age where you don’t have to carry around a rectangular lump of smartphone or tablet in order to connect and share on the go? Sure, most of the demos have focused on the camera and we haven’t seen a real life application of its augmented reality features (concept videos don’t count), but wearable tech is poised to become a big thing — and a product category that could be worth billions in the not-too-distant future.
A new report by Juniper Research, the market for smart glasses and other wearable devices will be worth US$1.5-billion by 2014 — up from just US$800-million in 2012. The year will also be an important one in terms of mass product roll outs (Google’s prototypes should be available in 2013) and in generating serious market traction with everything from GPS watches to heads up displays. Wearable tech has been gaining popularity recently, with applications like Nike+’s Fuelband and watches and Fitbit’s wireless activity trackers becoming early pioneers in the fitness industry in particular.
Fitness is just one of the categories identified in the report which should see major growth, along with wearable multimedia and entertainment devices (like heads up displays) and heath-related tech (such as heart rate monitors and blood pressure cuffs), although industrial wearables and military devices will also feature. North America and Europe are projected to account for the majority of the market value, with over 60% of global wearable device sales.
“With consumers embracing new technologies and form factors, wearable devices ranging from fitness accessories to heads-up displays will be more prevalent in the consumer market,” said Juniper Research’s Nitin Bhas. “While fitness and entertainment will have the greatest demand from consumers, within an enterprise environment, the demand for wearable devices will be greatest from the aviation and warehouse sectors”.
The existing mobile app stores will also continue to play an important role. Even if you don’t swap your Android for a pair of smart glasses, many wearable devices will be able to sync with downloadable smartphone apps, allowing you to manage the information or control the device from your cell phone. This can potentially lower development costs and make it easier for consumers to adopt the products.