The global market value of wearable devices is estimated to reach US$20.6 billion by 2018, with total annual shipments of 191 million units, because of their higher mobility and connectivity, the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Research Center (IEK) said yesterday.
While many tech companies have plans to launch wearable devices, whether there is strong demand for such products remains a question, IEK senior analyst Hou Chun-yuan (侯鈞元) told at a forum in Taipei.
Sony Corp, Samsung Electronics Co and Google Inc have launched smartwatches and smartglasses in the past few years, but those devices can only perform tasks when paired with smartphones.
Despite their higher portability, smartwatches and glasses remain peripherals to smartphones, Hou said, adding that consumers’ interest in wearable devices may diminish after knowing this shortcoming.
IEK’s research indicates that smartglasses have the highest growth potential, followed by smartwatches and smartshoes.
That is because smartglasses are closer to users’ eyes, and because users can read messages, take pictures or watch videos more easily, Hou said.
Smartglasses are likely to become the next game changer in the consumer electronics market as they provide a better interactive user experience, despite users’ privacy concerns, Hou said.
As for hardware design, IEK senior analyst Peng Jung-mao (彭茂榮) said wearable devices’ component makers need to design and produce smaller, lighter and more energy-efficient products to make sure finished wearable devices are portable enough.
“It’s a challenge to make wearable devices more powerful, while also making them smaller and lighter,” Peng said at the forum.
Peng said Taiwanese firms wanting to see new sales sources could further develop wearable devices, which also need components and expertise from the fields of semiconductor, interface, power management and global positioning systems.