Early adopters of Google Glass may have been openly mocked and ridiculed, and even attacked for wearing the socially awkward device on their heads, but they may be pioneers for a world ensconced in network-connected fashion.
According to a study by Juniper Research, smart watches, smart glasses, and even smart shirts are just beginning to penetrate the market, and their potential has hardly been realized yet. The experts conducting the study estimate that smart device sales will reach upwards of 27 million units by the end of this year and will most likely quadruple to more than 127 units by the end of 2017. Some of the biggest names in the ring are already the giants of the tech world, such as Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) with their upcoming Apple Watch and Google’s (NASDAQ: GOOG) Android Wear watches and Google Glass. However, even fashion designer Ralph Lauren has tested the Polo Tech Smart Shirt at this year’s U.S. World Open, using the shirt’s integrated biometrics system from OMSignal to keep track of the ball boys’ vitals during each tennis match.
At the moment, the trend seems to be focusing on health monitoring with most new wearables including built-in pedometers, heart-rate monitoring, and activity tracking. Some companies have gone beyond casual health monitoring and are creating devices designed to quickly and efficiently send vital biometrics directly to the customer’s physician. Such is the case with Qualcomm’s 2net platform and Samsung’s digital health services.
Researchers believe many of these companies will be developing separate operating systems and databanks to handle the incoming information from these devices. The report hints that this trend “will bring an explosion of devices into an already crowded market, as similar companies focus on producing quality hardware without needing software expertise.” The report goes on to warn that “the segment will be less open to truly unique innovations” and that independent wearables will remain rare since most developers will look to pair their devices to companion smartphones, resulting in dual revenue streams.
The Apple Watch isn’t expected until “early 2015,” but it’s already garnering a remarkable amount of attention. Apple is, to some extent, trying to shift the focus away from features like fitness monitoring and connected services, instead opting to promote the device as a high-end fashion timepiece. Apple is even being featured in Vogue Magazine heralding the device as an ultra-luxurious fashion accessory.
LG, the company that manufactures Android Wear devices, is rumored to be working on a new device running on the failed WebOS platform initially designed by Palm before being sold to Hewlett-Packard. When the platform was picked up by LG in 2013, the company initially said it was looking to use WebOS in a new line of Smart TVs, but had no plans to use it for any smartphones.
Will you be in line to get the Apple Watch on launch day? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
[Image via Apple]