Wearable devices constitute a major part of the Internet-of-Things (IoT), which explains the incredible growth of the industry in just a few years. Besides fitness, these wearables have had far reaching influence on the fields of education, disabilities, medicine, gaming, transportation, and entertainment.
The miniaturisation of sensors and electronic devices combined with pervasive connectivity and lowering of costs have facilitated the rapid growth in the number of fitness trackers being conceptualised and launched in the last few years.
But the future of this market segment depends on how well it can match the aesthetics of user tastes and preferences via optimal styling and overcoming design challenges. For instance, one of the biggest concerns for smartwatch makers is the ability to match the design sensibility of luxury time pieces, which are, first and foremost, identified as a fashion statement.
Other challenges include the limited battery life of most devices and the requirement for regular recharging, privacy issues, and functional bugs, among others.
But even with these obstacles, many new companies continue to enter the fray in the wide range of fitness trackers and wearable technologies. Some examples include:
- HexoSkin, Heddoko, and Ralph Lauren – have designed smart shirts that rely on moisture-wicking fibers and bio-sensing to track biomechanics and measure calories burned depending on muscle stress and the intensity of a workout
- Exmovere – have a product called Exmobaby and another one called the Mimo Baby Monitor that tracks the sleep status, body position, and breathing of infants
These devices sync data with smartphones to evaluate and present the results.
[See the full infographic by clicking the image]
The wearable technology industry has also witnessed multiple high-profile mergers and acquisitions in the last few years. Just recently, in November, 2015, Misfit was acquired by Fossil Group, and earlier that year in June, Intel had acquired Recon to accelerate its entry in this space. Intel had made another similar deal in 2014, acquiring Basis which makes wristwatch health trackers.
Other notable acquisitions include:
- The 2014 Facebook acquisition of an app called Moves by buying the Helsinki-based developer, ProtoGeo Oy
- The same year, Microsoft acquired most of the intellectual property owners by Osterhout Design Group – a low-profile company that develops wearable technology devices for the military (some of the patents were for Augmented Reality glasses)
- Covidien, a healthcare products company owned by Medtronic (a medical giant) acquired three firms including Zephyr Technologies that develops health-sensing wearables that can be purchased by users over-the-counter or following a prescription
It is hard to find accurate sales figures for the expansive wearable sector, especially since some brands are quite secretive with their figures. But estimates from IDC suggest that Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Apple are the top sellers in the industry.
Fitbit has sold over 36.7 million trackers since 2014; Xiaomi over 16.8 million Mi Band trackers; Apple over 14.7 million smartwatches; Samsung over 7.1 million Gear smartwatches and Fit wearables; Garmin over 6.3 million fitness trackers and GPS watches; Android Wear over 4.82 million units; and Pebble over 1.8 million smartwatches.
Other companies have made some very respectable sales in different niches, like TomTom targeting athletes with sports watches or BBK that produces budget watches for kids.
For a broader perspective of the wearable technology industry, find the full article titled The State of Fitness Trackers on appcessories.co.uk.