There's plenty of excitement in the tech industry surrounding the coming wave of wearable computing products. Already Samsung has seen limited success with its Galaxy Gear smart watch and fitness bands from companies such as Fitbit and Nike are now taking off as well.
While tech companies rush to carve out a place in consumer tech, however, the medical industry is quietly dominating the wearable computer segment. A new report out from market research firm ABI Research today revealed that shipments heart rate and "activity monitors" are leading smart watches by quite a bit and will continue to for at least a few more years. The report estimates that nearly 12 million wearable heart rate monitoring devices were shipped last year.
Wearable devices are expected to become an even more essential part of the healthcare industry in the coming years. Eventually other devices will integrate health monitoring functions into a more general toolset, but not before such products are well-established in the market.
A similar product trajectory is seen for the fitness bands that are becoming popular. ABI believes these very specific devices will continue to rise in popularity for a few years before their functionality is subsumed by more general products such as smart watches and smart glasses.
“The market for wearable computing devices is driven by a growing range of wireless connected wearable sports, fitness and wellbeing devices,” said Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI. “Heart rate and activity monitors will outpace shipments of smart watches and glasses for some years to come and they will also provide the essential foundation for the development of the broader wearable market.”
Image via Fitbit