2013 was the kick-off year for wearable computing (wearables) to take off. Most of the attention went to Google Glass, but during the year the momentum shifted to the smart watch; with the Pebble already serving wrists around the world and the introduction of Samsung Gear and hardware by Sony.
2014 will be even more about smart watches, maybe Google and Apple will join the game. But the kick off for 2014 as year of the smart watch is this week, at the Consumer Electronics Show 2014. Even before the event ZTE already made clear they are launching one.
Facts & Figures
According to Citigroup, the global watch industry generated $60 billion in sales in 2013. Numerous research estimates expect the smartwatch industry to generate billions more in revenue for consumer tech companies in 2014.
But they remain a very small part of the technology landscape, for now. That was one of the takeaways from a briefing this afternoon by Shawn DuBravac, Chief Economist at Consumer Electronics Association. DuBravac said that the global smartwatch market will grow to 1.5 million shipments during 2014, with the U.S. market increasing to one million.
However, by next year, retailers – both online and brick and mortar – will expand their focus on wearables, with smartwatches getting much of the mind and shelf-share (source NextMarket Insights).
The market for smart watches will also quickly expand as a new of first generation of devices from Apple, Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others are launched. With the market for smartphones largely saturated in the US and Europe and user like myself suffering from upgrade fatigue, vendors now aim for the wrist of consumers and their next cash cow.
Making it work
If smartwatches (and other wearables) can speak our language or predict our behavior, they can be of much more help to us, especially since all currently conceivable wearable devices involve limited screen space. With no space for haptic input, we need to be able to have a ‘conversation’ with these devices. Voice and artificial intelligence together should be the main ingredients for wearable computing, and as of now, they are not yet advanced enough.
If smart watches only boil down to another notification platform, I don’t believe that would make much sense. Users have a personal hierarchy of what kind of information is important. Real time must become the right time, based on their context.
Trends in Wearables
Koru, a Finnish wearable software company, forecasted their predictions on wearables in 2014. Its an interesting slidedeck that includes includes the elusive Apple smartwatch, multiple app store land grabs and more data for Facebook thanks to connected devices and life-logging.