For years, the smartphone has reigned supreme in the consumer electronics industry. But recently a new contender has been vying for the top spot: wearable devices. Wearable technology is making great strides in the fitness industry, as well as in the workplace and for personal security and lifestyle purposes.
Before stepping forward, let’s take one step back. What constitutes a “wearable device?” According to PWC’s Wearable Life 2.0 Report, wearable technology refers to accessories and clothing incorporating computer and advanced electronic technologies. This could be anything from fitness trackers/bands, smart glasses and smart watches to, believe it or not, smart clothing and any other technology meant to be experienced while worn on any part of a person’s body. Popular examples include Fitbit, Google Glass, GoPro and Apple Watch.
Once these devices become connected to cellular networks, unique communication applications will become available. This will create a stand-alone experience without having to connect the wearable to your smartphone. In a world obsessed with efficiency and connectivity, this is a winning concept.
It’s not difficult to see the attraction and convenience of a wearable device. Some of the top motivations to purchase a wearable include affordability, increased productivity and the ability to track personal information. Many parents believe that wearable technology can help improve their children’s health and tech proficiency, as well as help them maintain their own sanity through child-related alerts and notifications. The trend is even infiltrating the workplace. It’s estimated that by 2018 8 million employees will be required to wear tracking devices for health and fitness purposes. The Fitbit is not only changing the way we track our personal goals, but it’s also giving human resources professionals the data and leverage they need to combat health-related issues in the workplace due to inactivity on the job.
The question is, is the wearable electronics industry growing or has it reached its peak? Looking at expert predictions and industry trends, the market for wearable tech is expected to reach $51.6 billion by 2022 (PR Newswire). For reference, Forbes reports that the market is slated to reach $14 billion by the end of 2017. While this might seem like a big leap in terms of dollars and cents, consider that consumer behavior has been steadily shifting toward sophisticated gadgets for some time now.
Wearable technology’s future rests on passing the “turnaround test,” which asks whether an item is one that you would turn around and go home to retrieve if you had forgotten it. Increased adoption of wearables relies on becoming a functional utility rather than a fashionable accessory — and right now, the world is blurring the lines between the two.
What do you think? Do you own a wearable device? How has it lived up to your expectations? And would you give it a passing grade on the “turnaround test?” Leave your thoughts and comments below!