Shipments of connected wearables soared to 72.5 million in 2015, up from 25.3 million devices in the previous year, according to a report from Berg Insight.
Showing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 25.8 percent, total shipments of smartwatches, smart glasses, fitness and activity trackers, people monitoring and safety devices and medical devices as well as other wearable devices are forecast to reach 228.3 million units in 2020, with Bluetooth remaining the primary connectivity option in the coming years.
A total of 17.8 million of the wearables sold in 2020 are forecast to incorporate embedded cellular connectivity, mainly in the smartwatch and people monitoring and safety categories. The report noted that connected wearables such as cardiac rhythm management devices, ECG monitors, mobile personal emergency response systems (mPERS) and wearable computers are already common in the medical, people monitoring and enterprise segments.
"Implantable cardiac rhythm management (CRM) has traditionally been the largest market segment, led by companies such as Medtronic, Biotronik and St. Jude Medical that included connectivity in CRM solutions more than a decade ago," Johan Fagerberg, CEO of Berg Insight, told eWEEK. "The adoption of remote patient monitoring solutions is driven by a wide range of incentives, related to everything from demographics and technology development to new advancements in medical treatment."
He noted, however, that there are a number of barriers, including resistance to change among health care organizations and clinicians, misaligned incentive structures, and the financing of wireless solutions by what is largely an underfunded health care sector.
In the overall connected wearables market, miniaturized electronics, low-power wireless connectivity and cloud services have enabled the development of a wide range of new connected wearables such as authentication and gestures wristbands, notification rings, smart motorcycle helmets and smart gloves.
While the report noted shipments of smart glasses have so far been very modest, promising use cases in professional markets like in health IT, as well as in niche consumer segments, will enable smart glasses to become a sizeable connected wearable device category in the next five years.
A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) filing made in July by search engine behemoth Google indicates the company may be giving its failed smart glasses project, Google Glass, another go.
Glass is a head-mounted wearable computer developed by the company whereby users are enabled to communicate with the Internet through natural language voice commands or tapping and sliding on the glasses frame.
Available in limited quantities to early adopters, the $1,500 gadget promised a sci-fi version of the future, but in January, Google announced that it would stop producing the prototype—noting it remained committed to the development of the product.