Taking wearable Technology beyond a marketing gimmick!

The term “Wearable Electronics” refers to any electronic device or product which can be worn by a person to integrate computing in his daily activity or work and use technology to avail advanced features and characteristics. Wearable’s are the advanced consumer face of the Internet of Things, which have managed to draw the interest of organizations and users.

The global wearable electronics products market revenue is expected to grow roughly at a CAGR of 24.56% and cross $11.61 billion by the end of 2020, with steady sales of wristwear and footwear category, along with the emergence of the small market size for eyewear and bodywear category.

Major players in the market are Samsung Group (South Korea), Sony Corporation (Japan), Adidas AG (Germany), and Nike, Inc. (U.S.), among others.

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Wearable technology may not have had a “ubiquitous” influence as yet, but the long term prospect does seem exciting, and holds promises of a brighter future for the wearable devices and gadgets. From the much awaited “Google Glass” to the newly launched Samsung smart-watch, the industry is abuzz with new products and seems on the right track to emerge as a winning technology in the coming years. Players, both big and small, all across the value chain, are battling it out to seize the opportunity and grab a pie in the market. In this article, we attempt to identify the challenges and discuss the future roadmap of the industry.

The major technological barrier that the wearable technology faces is the power and performance of the computing components that go into it. Usually, the main issue revolves around the size, as tiny computing devices essentially need very small computing chips. In recent past, there have been some remarkable developments at the chip-level; and that has, in turn, heated up the processor-war among leading players such as Intel, ARM, and Qualcomm.

Intel was little slow in the “Smartphone” and “Tablet” market; but with the announcement of its smallest-ever silicon chip (a new chip family, Quark), it seems to have arrived at the right time, as the wearable electronics and gadget market are attaining a momentum, off-late. The Quark core is one-fifth the size of the companys existing Atom chips, and is said to use just ten percent of the power of an Atom chip, enabling it to be embedded into tiny devices, including wearable gadgets. The Quark has a fully synthesizable open architecture, which is a remarkable move towards interoperability. This will enable other companies to engineer around its chip and add their own processor. Speaking at the Intel Developer Forum, Brian Matthew Krzanich, the CEO, highlighted that Intel does not intend to manufacture wearable devices, but wants to provide the new chip to other companies for use in their wearable gadgets and devices. Another key market player, ARM, is bullish on ‘internet of things’ and wearable technology. The company’s key initiatives and developments in the last couple of months are revolving around the embedded chip that can go into small wearable devices and also become a cornerstone of connected devices. Similarly, other players such as Qualcomm and Imagination Technologies have made interesting pronouncements in the last few months.

The term ‘Wearable Electronics’ refers to any electronic device or product which can be worn by a person to integrate computing in his daily activity or work and use technology to avail advanced features and characteristics. In simple terms, wearable electronics is used to make routine things easier to perform as well as make life sophisticated by offering several computing features in various day-to-day applications, mainly due to the integration of computing and communication devices. Currently, several types of wearable electronics exist with the development of various types of technologies and advancements in wearable computing.

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Among application sectors, consumer applications accounted for the largest market share with market size crossing $790.2 Million as of 2012. However, that of enterprise and industrial application is expected to grow at the highest CAGR (more than 26%) during the forecast period of 2014 to 2020. The Americas, with the U.S. accounting for more than 72% of the market, is the single largest revenue base for the global wearable electronics market and is expected to maintain its dominance during the forecast period as well. However, the wearable technology market in Asia–Pacific, with China leading the way, is likely to grow at the highest CAGR during the next six years.

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