Tue, Feb 18, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Wearable device shipments to surge

‘KILLER PRODUCTS’:Lower technical barriers will open the floodgates for wearable devices like smartglasses, which have the potential to change our lives, experts say

By Helen Ku  /  Staff reporter

Worldwide wearable device shipments are estimated to grow 499 percent to 190 million units in 2018 from 31.7 million units this year, as more multifunction products like smartwatches and smartglasses debut in the market, the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Research Center (IEK) said yesterday.

The global market for wearable devices like smartwatches and wristbands is forecast to grow significantly this year because technology companies face lower technical barriers to entry, IEK senior analyst Hou Chun-yuan (侯鈞元) told a forum in Taipei.

The higher entry barriers for smartglasses and bioelectronics will limit vendors to a relatively smaller number compared with those making smartwatches and wristbands this year, he added.

“Wearable devices will become the information and communications technology’s [ICT] next growth driver as demand for mobile devices, as well as traditional PCs, weakens,” Hou said.

Hou forecast that new wearable devices launched by tech companies this year will be accessories to smartphones. Using Bluetooth technology, wearables like smartwatches or wristbands can measure the wearer’s heart rate and then report back, Hou said.

The application of smartwatches or wristbands would still be largely related to monitoring a person’s body condition during exercise, he added.

“Using a gadget to check a person’s body condition is convenient, but the application will not be able to create a market that is large in scale,” Hou said.

Hou said smartglasses, unlike smartwatches or wristbands, can stimulate huge demand because they can perform tasks from the “first-person point of view.”

“Smartglasses will become ‘killer products’ as they can take pictures within a wink of the eye, or display information to the person in a direct way,” Hou said.

Hou said wearable devices need more wearer-friendly designs, because they are attached to people’s bodies to detect physiological data or other signals.

Unlike mobile devices or traditional PCs, wearable devices are smaller in size and cannot carry large batteries to stay charged for any considerable length of time, Hou said.

To attract consumers, tech companies planning to develop wearable devices should adopt low-power consumption chipsets for their products, Hou said.

He also said that firms consider using waterproof components.

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