Mounting Benefits of Wearable Devices in the Healthcare Sector

The wearable sensors market for gyroscopes is expected to grow at the highest growth rate during the forecast period. Wearable devices primarily include smartwatches, smart glasses, electronic pedometers, and others.

The wearable sensors market size was valued at USD 189.4 million in 2015 and is expected to grow to USD 1,654.0 million at a CAGR of 30.14% between 2016 and 2022.

By application, the wristwear application sector is expected to hold a major market size during the forecast period

Wearable devices offer a wide range of functionalities from simple features such as monitoring heart rate and calories burned to advanced smart features such as providing data about smell, taste, hearing, and sight. Wristwear accounted for ~50% of the wearable sensors market in 2015. Bodywear is further bifurcated into clothing and inner wear, arm and legwear, smart socks, body-worn cameras, and chest straps.

North America to account for the largest market size during the forecast period.

The growth of the wearable sensors market in North America will be propelled by various factors. One of the most important factors is technological innovations and advances, which result in the introduction of new products. Growing demand from consumers and medical applications have also boosted market growth in North America. Other factors promoting growth include the increasing incidence of chronic diseases.

Market Dynamics

Driver:  Miniaturization trend in sensors

Wearable devices such as wristwear, bodywear, and eyewear are increasingly being used in healthcare and consumer infotainment. Over time, wearable products technology has improved steadily, and the devices are becoming smaller. According to the Irish Times (2015), the trend in the wearable ecosystem is slowly moving from “wearables” to “hearables” and by the next decade, wearable devices will be “disappearables.” This implies that the major players in the wearable ecosystem such as Fitbit, Apple, and Garmin are constantly striving to offer high-end innovations in wearable products (such as wearable devices with maximum functionalities and small size).

The miniaturization of sensors using microelectronics has been instrumental in the development of wearable devices. One of the major hurdles in the adoption of sensing technology, especially for wearable electronics, is the size of the sensors. The hardware components gather the physiological and movement data which is suitable for long-term monitoring applications. Companies such as STMicroelectronics, NXP Semiconductors, and Broadcom are the major players investing heavily in R&D. The increasing use of sensors based on MEMS, nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS), and CMOS technologies is also another key market driver.  

Restraint:  Lack of common standards and interoperability issues

In the current scenario, there are many smart Internet-connected devices in the market and the number is growing rapidly. Standardization is the key requirement to enable efficient communication of sensor information and sensor data. There are some companies that have come up with standards for sensor communication. For instance, the OGC’s Sensor Web Enablement (SWE) standards meet the requirement for better communication among sensors in the most complex as well as very simple applications. The SWE standards make it easy to integrate this information into thousands of geospatial applications that implement the OGC or other standards. The lack of common standards for sensor communication also creates interoperability issues. Interoperability and easy exchange of information between connected devices are vital for the further growth of wearable ecosystem. Presently, the technical and market scenarios for wearable technology are not much satisfactory in terms of architectural solution or a universal standard to solve the issue of interoperability. To achieve this, efforts such as understanding the role of security and its importance will be required from enterprises, organizations, and developers for a considerable amount of time. Thus, the lack of common standards and interoperability issues restricts the growth of the overall wearable sensors market.

Opportunity: Increasing number of connected devices

In the past five years, a remarkable change has been seen in Internet penetration worldwide. Almost one-third of the world population is using Internet now, at higher bandwidths. This has resulted in increase in number of Internet-enabled smart devices in developing countries. In 2014, worldwide smartphone usage grew at a rate of ~25%. Smartphones are among the widely used portable devices in wearable ecosystem, and they are primarily used for gathering and tracking data related to health and fitness for 0–9 and 60 and above age groups. In addition, wearable technology forms an important segment of platforms such as IoT and M2M and these platforms are the key factors for increasing number of connected devices worldwide.

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