Wearable Electronics: Here Come The Novelty Peaks IDTechEx Cambridge, UK
Wearable Electronics: Here Come the Novelty Peaks By Dr Peter Harrop, Chairman, IDTechEx
We now have wearable technology for all parts of our body but Nike has recently exited fitness monitoring wristbands after a collapse in sales. That market reached $400 million very rapidly and big names in electronics invested, but it turns out that people are getting bored with them. They may have changed their lifestyle as a consequence of using them but that does not merit ongoing "mind time". It must be even more true of versions now available for your dog.
If novelty peaks do not ruin your sales of wearable devices then commoditisation may. The lessons of history are clear; from the Chinese electronic wristwatches averaging three dollars each, to their earphones at even less. Hearing aids go the same way. Only niches remain for manufacturers from other countries.
The third bit of bad news for manufacturers is the sheer misery of using a lot of these wearable devices. Eloquently, a speaker at a recent event said that, "Using these new smart wristwatches is like assembling an ocean liner through a keyhole".
The good news is that the Google Glass and some other devices have hugely improved human interfaces so they are a pleasure to use. Wearable electronics in the form of infotainment may be largely exposed to commoditisation but medical wearables are cleverer, the IP better protected and the short runs are less attractive to the Chinese. A diabetic kept alive by a smart patch will not give you a novelty peak any more than the management of a care home putting safety electronics on disoriented patients in their care or a paraplegic walking because of an exoskeleton. That is why the new IDTechEx report, "Wearable Technology 2014-2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts" (www.IDTechEx.com/wearable), concludes that the merging sectors of healthcare, medical, fitness and wellness have the most potential with industrial, commercial and even fashion applications becoming appreciable as the market powers to over $70 billion in 2024. There will be many false starts but even informatics wearables will not be fully commoditised.
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