Reports on wearables and related fitness devices haven’t generally agreed upon where the market is going and what the eventual volume of sales will be.
But that hasn’t dampened the industry’s ardor for new products. Thus, a new report from Juniper Research should give heart to those making devices to track fitness on a personal level.
This report predicts a tripling of wearables in use by 2018, which would boost those out in the field from 19 million to nearly 60 million, a figure that would begin to justify the extensive investment made in device development.
The report, Smart Health & Fitness Wearables: Device Strategies, Trends & Forecasts 2014-2019, forecasts that wearables will become increasingly complex over the next few years. The evolution of products designed to measure heart rate, blood pressure, weight and body fat, and to track workouts, will move toward smartwatches. These will begin to take over, much as smart phones became more powerful and took on myriad functions formerly performed by individual devices. Meantime, two distinct classes of wearables will emerge.
“The diversity of fitness wearables will bring about two classes of fitness device. Basic trackers, like the $13 Xiaomi MiBand, will sell on their value, while more complex devices, such as the Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band and Samsung Gear Fit, will offer additional features beyond fitness, such as notifications and music control,” Juniper said in a release. “More capable devices will compete with smart watches, especially those that offer similar notification functions, like the MetaWatch M1 and Martian Notifier. However, more aesthetically-minded consumers will still choose watches, as fitness-focused devices will prioritize function over form.”
Health care’s natural alliance with wearables will expand further, Juniper said.
“Sales of health care-focused wearable devices will increase, from wearable ECGs (electrocardiograms) to glucose monitors and insulin pumps. While they are currently used in areas where self-medication is the norm, capabilities will expand to allow monitoring by healthcare professionals in other areas. This will only happen once questions around regulation are answered, however,” Juniper said.
Juniper forecasts that fitness tracker Fitbit will continue to lead the pack, “although their decision not to integrate with Apple Health may harm their market share in the short term.”
The report also suggested investors and wearable users keep an eye on the start-up company GOQii, which, it said, “is pioneering a new service-based business model, offering contact with fitness coaches alongside their device.”