The World of Wearables: Exploring Unexpected Opportunities for Startups

By Wladimir Hinz, Altitude Accelerator Research Associate

Imagine sitting in your office or at home, and having your doctor monitor your levels of, let’s say, cholesterol or glucose, in real time, from his/her office? Wearables will disrupt and accelerate change in industries beyond technology.

wearables1In the future, every day will be extraordinary. Smarter innovations have already changed the way we live, play and interact with our world (and the world of others). But what’s next? After smartphones and smart appliances, it appears that everything has confabulated to make wearables the next big thing.

Although wearables may appear on the surface to simply be devices that connect to your smartphone/tablet to just relocate alerts elsewhere, most of them do a lot more than that.  In fact, the majority of them, interact with your body – some in unexpected ways.

Key fields have come together to make wearables the technology of the future. Broadband, sensors, trackers, and smartphone apps have created the perfect environment to make wearables fit almost naturally in the Internet of Things. This is giving enterprises the opportunity to enhance connectivity using one of the most important trends in recent time.

The massive amount of data that’s generated by these devices is just beginning to be harnessed and analyzed. Right now, future applications are basically limitless. Data already makes work smarter, faster and safer, as machines are able to share an unimaginable amount of information with each other, allowing humans to focus on the things that really matter. It’s impossible not to get enamored with all the potential uses of wearables.

In the consumer electronic industry, wearables have been breaking records for the past five years, and they aren’t stopping. For 2015, Visiongain projects that the value of the wearable market will reach $16.1 billion worldwide.  Similarly, the CEA reports that in 2015 the industry will generate $5.1 billion just in the U.S. (133% more than in 2014), selling more than 30 million units. This is very impressive for a technology that practically started in 2009. There are also two very big categories that are leading the market:

  1. Health and fitness devices: Activity trackers and sensors are the most popular and it’s expected that 20 million units will be sold in 2015 in the U.S. (representing almost $2 billion in revenue).
  1. Smartwatches: Although these are fairly newer, they are projected to generate around $3 billion in sales in the U.S. as well. Approximately 11 million devices are expected to be sold.

wearables2These numbers represent an enormous increase from previous years. It’s also being projected that by the end of 2015, 25% of the population in the U.S will be using some type of wearable gadget. In two years, this number is expected to grow to 50%. This is huge, as it marks the start of the mass adoption of wearables and a rapid assimilation of the technology.

We’re amongst a paradigm shift of what and how we learn from each other. Wearable computing could eventually lift the veil on many current health and science mysteries. There are plenty of opportunities for wearable technology to be taken to another level. Fields like health care, human relations, and even the environment, could really make a good case for such devices.

And not just those, shopping could become more social, interactive and engaging. Transactions could also change completely. Entertainment as well. Even the way we stand and sleep is being improved.

There will always be things that we have to figure out by ourselves, but with wearable technology we can leverage data by empowering and enabling people. Entrepreneurs should take note as there are still so many more valuable devices to be invented.

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