Analysts IDTechEx have been forecasting emerging technologies and their markets for 15 years; from printed electronicsand 3D printing, to the Internet of Things and wearable technology. Our many PhD-level analysts are multi-lingual and, together with their teams, travel the world to understand what is going on and try to see the future on behalf of consultancy clients and for their regularly updated reports.
This year has seen the IDTechEx forecasts on key aspects of the booming wearable technology market vindicated in quick succession. For example, Apple has previously shunned near field communication (NFC) in its phones and IDTechEx has said it will be forced to embrace it in future. Now the new iPhone 6 (possibly being launched next week) and the colloquially named iWatch (coming in 2015) are both likely to have it. IDTechEx was also right in saying that internet-enabled wristwear will be relatively unsuccessful merely as a phone peripheral, even with WiFi capability. IDTechEx advised that phone capability will soon be offered by the big names. Timex, LG, Samsung and others have now rapidly moved that way, with Apple and Google following. IDTechEx also correctly predicted that Android would quickly become the most popular operating system in wearable technology and that has now happened partly due to the arrival of Android Wear. IDTechEx has also correctly predicted that the disruptive wearable technology based on e-fibers is a long term affair with no quick wins. Indeed, IDTechEx does not think phone capabilities in those wristwatches, even combined with payment as planned by Apple and the inevitable fitness monitoring, will create massive new markets without a further big change.
“We desperately need much better human interfaces”, says Wearable Technology Team Leader at IDTechEx Dr Peter Harrop. “We have the near impossible challenge of most people only wanting to wear one device on their wrist doing a burgeoning number of tasks with really simple, fast, intuitive interfaces. Doing that with a tiny wristwatch screen goes completely against the trend of mobile phones which have, by popular request, had bigger and bigger screens for ten years already.” He is impressed by the interfaces of the latest electronic eyewear for people on the move but believes that, even here, there is more work to be done. However, he believes that privacy issues will largely die away as they become indistinguishable from regular spectacles.
In the research report Wearable Technology 2014-2024: Technologies, Markets, Forecasts IDTechEx predicts that there will be huge growth in wearable technology sales over the coming decade, including in wearable technology for animals which is the subject of a separate report. However, IDTechEx sees the greatest percentage and absolute profits being not in infotainment, the biggest sector for human wearable electronics, but in the merged functions of medical, healthcare, fitness and wellness.
“Your life depends on it,” says Harrop. Time will tell if he is right about that.
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