If you think that smart clothing will have its five minutes before disappearing into obscurity, then you are sadly mistaken. A new study from Juniper Research has found that the wearables market has begun to shift away from wrist-based devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, to connected clothing.
Juniper Research is a company that provides research and analytical services to the global hi-tech communications sector. They forecast that connected clothing is going to be the fastest growing wearable sector, regarding shipments, over the next two years. “A key challenge for wearables is to provide a concrete benefit or unique data. All our top growth segments either provide in-depth data on specialised form factors or benefits that do not involve data at all,” said researchers at Juniper.
“If we want wearables to become truly wearable, companies need to start looking at the clothes we wear every day of our lives”
The new research on smart wearables, listed connected clothing (102% CAGR) as number one, smart glasses (98%) followed at two, smart jewellery (55%) three, hearables (31%) four and finally smartwatches (31%) at number five. The results of the research were based on strategies, opportunities and forecasts 2018-2022. Their overall findings were that the smart wearables market would reach nearly 350 million devices shipped by 2020.
With the wearables market currently dominated by smartwatches, many insiders have, in the past, predicted the end of wrist-bound wearables as smart clothes grows in popularity. “No one in the industry wants to admit it, but the wrist is probably not the best place to stick a bunch of sensors, and activity tracking may not even be the best use for all those sensors. If we want wearables to become truly wearable, companies need to start looking at the clothes we wear every day of our lives” said Malarie Gokey of Digital Trends back in 2016. There might be some truth to these ‘end of wearables’ predictions, but at the moment 137 million devices are expected to be shipped in 2018. According to Juniper, growth will slow, shipping almost 190 million by 2020 as the lifecycle of devices lengthens as fewer new features and a software focus delay repeat purchases.
In conclusion, Juniper expects connected clothing to accelerate in the coming years, thanks to developments in conductive fabric, alongside smart sportswear from companies like Sensoria, Lumo and Under Armour. This sector will ship over 7 million units by 2020, before reaching nearly 30 million in 2022.