Fung Global predicts new wave of wearables

Moving beyond smartphones and smartwatches, smart shirts and more are expected to emerge as the next generation of wearable technology, according to a new report from think tank Fung Global Retail & Technology.

This follows the development of new segments, the merging of others and greater integration with the Internet of Things (IoT), says The Wearables Report 2016: Reviewing a Fast-Changing Market.

Already a $28.7 billion market, a boost is expected from the second generation of connected devices. “Wearables 2.0” will incorporate multiple connected devices and cloud-based services that together offer more meaningful enhancements to users’ lifestyles, says Fung Global MD Deborah Weinswig.

“We are seeing big names such as Sony Xperia and Under Armour building ecosystems of connected devices and software services, alongside new names such as SensorKit,” says Weinswig.  

“Wearables 1.0 are effectively just another screen for smartphones: the devices include technology that is easily copied, have limited functionality and usually need a connection via smartphone.”

More impact

She says the second generation of wearables be more sophisticated and have more impact, bundling multiple smart devices with software services.

These devices will be used for fitness and wellness (including trackers, usually worn on the wrist), healthcare (heart and blood-pressure monitors, and medical “cloud” software applications), lifestyle, and gaming and entertainment (such as virtual and augmented-reality devices).

The result, says Weinswig, is that fitness trackers are overlapping with smartwatches and software/cloud solutions that connect to multiple devices and to the IoT; headphones embedded with smart sensors are converging with the hearing-aid market; and autonomous products such as Nike’s self-lacing shoes are being launched, further blurring the boundaries of wearables.

While wristwear has dominated product launches and driven market growth so far, a wave of innovation in clothing and sportswear is adding momentum to the wearables market. Large companies like Levi’s are collaborating with technology companies to create innovative products including smart jackets and shoes.

“Innovation and change are rife in the wearables market,” says Weinswig. “The future of the wearable technology market looks like it will be married by new products in existing categories, strong market growth and diversification, with brands offering ecosystems of devices.

Based in New York, London and Hong Kong, the Fung Global Retail & Technology research team follows emerging retail and tech trends. It is led by Weinswig, a former Wall Street and retail tech analyst and startup adviser.

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