You would assume that the biggest players in the rapidly emerging wearables market would be the giants such as Samsung, Google or Microsoft. But in fact it seems that wearables have made their impact on the buying public through fitness aids first, and as yet are still struggling to establish themselves in other markets.
So the first of the big players is a Californian company – Fitbit. A report by market research firm Canalys shows that nearly half of all wearable sales are coming out of this one, hugely successful company. So while there may be a worldwide obesity epidemic stretching our waistbands, it seems that we still want to monitor our health and fitness levels using these innovative tracking devices.
So why is Fitbit so successful? Well, primarily because compared to other wearable sports bands such as the Nike Fuel, they’re affordable (despite glowing reviews, sales of the Fuel have been lacklustre to say the least). Fitbit hasn’t just thought about the functionality of wearables, but the aesthetics too – and that’s one area of marketing this innovative tech that other, larger manufacturers sometimes overlook.
Take, for example, the Samsung Galaxy Gear. Putting aside the technical issues of the 1.0 version for a moment, aesthetically this smart watch is in danger of missing out half of its potential audience – women. The watch is big, bulky and flashy, which may appeal to some but could put a lot of other people off. Likewise the Pebble watch – the original ‘smart watch’ – which may be functional, but still suffers from a design that may not appeal to anyone other than the most dedicated wearables fans.
A wave of innovation
However, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that the wearables market is exploding, and there is plenty of potential for the major players such as Microsoft, Google (who showcased the incredible Google Glass as its flagship wearable) and in particular Samsung. What is now needed is an incorporation of innovative ideas, such as flexible screen technology from R&D specialists like Plastic Logic, to move the market forward. “Plastic Logic’s flexible plastic displays are completely transformational in terms of product interaction,” says Plastic Logic CEO Indro Mukerjee.
“Flexible electronics is a reality, already proven through the development and manufacture of plastic, bendable displays and sensors,” he adds. “For the first time a fully organic, plastic, flexible AMOLED demonstration has been achieved with a real industrial fabrication process. This marks the start of a revolution in wearable products, the next frontier in consumer electronics – 2014 will be the year that wearable technology starts to go mainstream.”
And he’s on the money, too. In the next few months expect to see wearables to really hit the market, including a plethora of smart watches from Motorola and LG, as well as the Android Wear operating system from Google. There is also, of course, the long awaited iWatch from Apple, but many industry watchers predict that the mighty Apple may have left it too late to have any significant influence on the wearables market. Of course, it’s all down to the consumer and how they react to wearables as to who will come out on top.
About the author
Charlotte blogs about gadgets and technology, covering everything from the latest mobile advancements to display technology. When she’s not online Charlotte enjoys swimming, cycling and travelling the world.