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Wearable tech to take off, report finds

03 December 2013, 12:41

Cape Town - A new report has confirmed that wearable technology is set to take off, but has warned that manufacturers have to entice users with functionality.

Juniper research has found that wearable technology will increase to 130 million by 2018, a significant escalation of previous estimates.

The report, entitled, Smart Wearable Devices: Fitness, Healthcare, Entertainment & Enterprise: 2013-2018, says that not only will the attraction of wearable technology increase, but that the arena will become increasingly competitive.

Research firm Gartner had earlier said that the market for wearable technology would remain small if manufacturers did not increase functionality of the devices.

"For wearables to be successful, they need to add to the user experience by complementing and enhancing what other devices already offer. They also need to be stylish yet practical, and most of all hit the right price," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.


The Juniper paper argued that competition in the new segment would be ramped up as manufacturers raced to increase the features of new devices.

"Even though wearables are relatively new in terms of market maturity, it is clear that the market, for example the smart watch in particular, will be - as per smartphones - a somewhat crowded affair," said report author Nitin Bhas.

Google Glass is slated to go into mass production in the short term and the technology has already created much hype around wearable technology, though Google conceded that the final product was not perfect.

One company has taken the Glass concept and miniaturised the components.

Start-up Geco has produced the Geco Mark II action camera which clips on to a pair of spectacles or sunglasses, but it is not designed to compete with Google's product.

"No, as Google Glass is more on the realms of a virtual reality computer and we are simple a hands free action cam solely for capturing footage," Prinesh Naidoo, start-up chief technology officer told News24 about the product due for release in early 2014.

Watches have also emerged as a key development area for wearable technology and Sony and Samsung have devices that communicate in concert with smartphones.

Privacy hurdles

But the price and functionality of the smart watches has left analysts unmoved.

"In the short term, we expect consumers to look at wearables as nice to have rather than a 'must have', leaving smartphones to play the role of our faithful companion throughout the day," said Milanesi.

Juniper also indicated that significant legal and privacy hurdles remain in the adoption of the devices, and several US jurisdictions have already placed restrictions of the use of Google Glass.

"In the case of Healthcare wearables, the most relevant issue is the storage of confidential and personal vital health information by these devices," the report says.

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