Wearables are so hot right now. Apple iWatch rumours are in rude health. Google is apparently looking (beyond Glass) at picking up and strapping onto its business another startup in the wearables space (guesses for which in the comments pls).
Jawbone, maker of the UP fitness tracker bangle (and apparently not the company in Google’s Glassy sights), is running sweat-free towards an IPO. Action camera maker GoPro — ok, not technically a wearables company but the point of its cameras are that they are, y’know, wearable — has already filed for one. Smartwatch maker Pebble has raised a tonne of money since 2012, first via Kickstarter and then, off the back of its snowballing crowdfunder, from VC checkbooks.
Even though the genuine usefulness of bits of technology that you strap to your person still has a lot of proving to do – vs the intrusion (both visual, with a lot of these early devices being best described as uuuuuuuugggglllyyy; and, more importantly, the sensitive personal data being captured and monetized) – it’s the big huge lucrative potential that’s exciting makers and investors.
Mature Western markets are saturated with smartphones — ergo step forward sensor-stuffed wearables as the next growth engine for device makers. Devices whose literal positioning on our bodies enables them to gather far more intimate data on the lives and (physical) habits of users than previous generations of consumer mobiles. If only we can be persuaded to wear this stuff.
Yesterday analyst Canalys suggested 2014 will be the year for the wearables category becomes a “key consumer technology” — with more than 17 million wearable bands (alone) forecast to ship this year, rising to 23 million by 2015, and more than 45 million by 2017.
So that’s only wearable tech targeting the wrist, such as the Fitbit fitness tracker and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch — it does not include devices aiming to squat on other body-parts (such as Google Glass). In short: tech makers gonna put a smart ring on it. Many are already trying.
On the ‘who is already making what’ front, wearable tech research and consulting firm Vandrico has put together this neat overview of the space — tracking the number of devices in existence; areas of market focus; and even which parts of the body are being targeted most (the wrists, since you’re curious — with 56 devices vying for that small patch of flesh; followed by the head, with 34 devices wanting to cling to it. On the flip side, the least popular body part for wearables thus far is apparently the hand, with just two devices listed).
According to Vandrico, there are some 115 wearables in play already; with an average selling price of $431; and with lifestyle, fitness and medical being the most popular market areas targeted (in that order).
The researcher has also taken the time to list and profile every single one of the 115 wearables it reckons are currently in play, so you don’t have to — from 3L Labs Footlogger to the ZTE Bluewatch (another mobile maker doing a smartwatch, who knew?).
Or at least all of the wearables its research has turned up. It’s asking for submissions for missing devices so it can keep expanding this database. (I’m going to throw the Fin into the ring on that front.)
Click here to check out — and start quantifying — the data for yourself.