Wearable device growth; a trend started in 2013 to continue bigger in 2014

Date: 23/12/2013
Though wearable devices are in the market from several years, but it is in this year of 2013, we are seeing sudden rise of new product launches both for fitness purposes and also for communication and information purposes. The most interesting product launched this year is Galaxy Gear from Samsung. It is reported by market researcher Canalys that Samsung has shipped 800,000 units of Galaxy Gear in its first two months of sale.

The highest shipment among wearable devices is now for fitness devices. Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) has forecasted nearly 27 million Americans expected to buy a fitness device in year 2014. CEA also finds the dedicated wearable fitness devices tripled its ownership from 3% in 2012 to 9% in 2013. More than 91% of potential buyers looking for health monitoring feature in smart watches, as per CEA. So the clear indication is the wearable devices are now increasingly finding use in health and fitness monitoring. Simple practical example is, the wearable Smart watch can act as a reminder to take their pill in right time.

Along with smart watches and wearable fitness devices there are also other fast-emerging wearable devices such as wearable GPS and smart glasses.

Market researcher Futuresource consulting has estimated wearable devices have generated a revenue of US$ 8 Billion in 2013, though in 2013 fitness devices constitute over 90% of the revenue, but that going to be changed in 2014 and further, where smart watches and smart glasses going to occupy the major share in the wearable devices market revenue. Futuresource estimates 1 million smart glasses are expected to be sold in 2014, and it expects 7 million by year 2017. The total market for wearable electronics by year 2017 is forecasted to be US$20 Billion by Futuresource.

On wearable bands, Market analysis company Canalys says 200,000 smart wearable bands shipped in the first half of 2013 and it expects this to grow by well over 500% in the second half of the year 2013.

On the connectivity, some of the wearable devices are directly connected to the smart phone of the user. On regular basis the information exchanged between the wearable device and smart phone. This results in sales of two types of devices, one independent of smart phone and other sold along with smart phone.

The year 2014 is expected to be a year of triple digit growth for some of the wearable devices. So, at this end of year 2013, electronic and semiconductor companies and professionals can be cheerful on the opportunities the wearable electronic devices offer for revenue and career growth. Sensors, low-power wireless transceivers, extremely integrated low-power consuming SoCs, Novel display panels, and energy harvesting ICs are all going to benefit from the growth of wearable electronics market. It gives an opportunity for developers of such devices to redesign their products and components for wearable electronic devices, where the size and power consumption is critical along with the performance. The software developers also have to make the software code more power efficient by reducing the code size and as well as using innovative algorithms, where the processor is used for less time for executing a task compared to executing same task on mobile phone. Other way is to outsource the computation to nearby bigger device such as smart phone/tablet/PC.

To give you some idea of how electronic companies are offering solutions and components targeting electronic wearable devices.

1. CSR has launched new low-cost development kit for developers looking to create fully-featured Bluetooth Smart products such as wearable, human interface, fitness, medical and IoT devices. Bluetooth smart also known as Bluetooth low energy is a wireless computer network technology designed for low power applications in the healthcare, fitness, security, and home entertainment industries.

2. Ambarella and Google jointly to demonstrate the wearable camera reference design during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 7-10th. Ambarella-based wearable cameras with Helpouts will enable instructors to see live video from the trainee’s perspective, or vice versa, supporting interactive teaching of sports, fitness, art, cooking, engineering or any other hands-on activity.

3.Qualcomm's Toq smartwatch uses Mirasol. an always on low power display. Mirasol display technology utilizes ambient light to enable a crisp and clear viewing experience even in bright sunlight. Qualcomm has also used WiPower LE technology supports wireless charging experience.

Here is a nice market opportunity explained for software developers in developing apps for wearable devices:

David MacQueen, Executive Director Apps & Media research, said “We found that in the coming year, over 27 percent of our panel of over 1,700 developers intend to create apps for wearable devices. This is a nine-fold increase from the 3 percent of developers which experimented with apps for wearable devices this year”, said MacQueen. “Consumers today remain to be convinced as to why they should buy such devices, but with so many apps likely to become available for this new category of devices, it’s a strong indicator that wearables are going to go beyond the current industry hype. We’re sure to see the sort of innovation which has driven the smartphone apps market forward and this will help drive consumer uptake of the devices themselves.”

At the Consumer Electronic Show event 2014, the visitors are sure to enjoy the display of innovative wearable electronic devices.

Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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