More than 1,000 wearable devices are now available to consumers and to the enterprise. Wearable computing systems include watches, earbuds, sensors, headbands, fabrics, and other devices.
The latest generation of devices no longer require a smartphone or computer to see and report data, adjust settings and archive information. This is known as “independent connectivity,” and it will become the norm in 2020.
The International Data Corporation measured 31% growth in the wearables market during the fourth quarter of 2018 alone, but the holiday season wasn’t an anomaly. Growth has continued along an upward trajectory through 2019. The Future Today Institute estimates that by the end of 2020, global wearable device sales could top $370 million.
Globally, smartphone shipments are in decline. Apple will no longer report sales numbers for its phones—a clear signal of what’s on the horizon. And even as new form factors enter the consumer marketplace in 2020 (dual-sided phones and models with foldable screens), the functionality isn’t improving at a fast-enough rate to merit tossing out existing phones for new ones. In the next 10 years, we will transition from a single device that we carry to a suite of next-gen communication devices that we’ll wear and command using our voice, gesture, and touch. This future came into clearer view in January 2020, when Apple reported $20 billion in wearable product sales for the previous year. This growth in wearables has eclipsed the company’s growth in phones—and made the wearables division itself worth as much as a Fortune 150 company.
Entertainment, media, and technology companies should develop strategies for wearable systems. Key questions to answer include:
We are transitioning from devices that we carry to devices that we wear. As price points drop and 5G networks are built, wearable devices will enter the global mainstream.
Amazon, Amazon’s Echo products, Android, Apple, Athos, Center for Brain and Cognition at the University of California-San Diego, Center for Wearable Sensors at the University of California-San Diego, Digitsole, Ekso Bionics, Facebook, Google, Google’s Fitbit, Halo, Harvard University’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, Sacros Robotics, HTC, Intel, Johns Hopkins University, Magic Leap, Microsoft, MIT Media Lab, Motiv, Muse, Neuralink, NextMind, Nike, Oculus VR, ORII, Oura, PayPal, Pivot Yoga, Proteus, Quanttus, Ringly, Robotics Institute at Beihang University, Samsung, Sign-IO, Signal, Simon Fraser University, SmartThings, Soliyarn, Sony, Spire Health, Starkey, Thalmic Labs, Trimble, UnderArmour, University of California-Los Angeles, University of California-San Francisco, University of Chicago, Welt Corp, Withings.
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