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Wearables have made enormous advances in recent years. More and more, they are finding their way into our daily lives. The small, intelligent devices are worn directly on the body and offer functions that are useful in terms of our health, lifestyles, fitness or work. The devices measure bodily functions like the pulse, record distances covered by the wearer, serve as sports training aids and can be networked with other devices, like smartphones.
Wearables are among the most important technological trends of the decade. The global market is already a multi-billion dollar one, with double-digit annual growth rates. Analysts are assuming that the market will continue to grow by approximately 10% a year until 2024. This amounts to sales of wearables totaling over half a billion in 2024.
One of the main reasons for this impressive expansion in the wearables market is that people are always fascinated by the idea of self-improvement. Intelligent devices should make life easier and more comfortable for us. However, smart wearables have only become socially-acceptable since the advent of more powerful, smaller and cheaper electronic components, such as processors, sensors and displays. Smartwatches or fitness trackers, for example, these days have computing power and storage capacities previously only seen in mainframes in data centers a few years ago. Further factors influencing the evolution of wearables are the advance in wireless network technology and the increasingly ubiquitous Internet. Technologies such as WiFi, Bluetooth, 3G, 4G and 5G mobile networks enable wearables to connect almost everywhere. When combined with Internet services and devices like smartphones, the application possibilities are virtually endless. With the increasing spread of wearables comes a paradigm shift in the use of electronic devices. The development of new operating concepts and intuitive human-machine interfaces also allows the technically less-able to use smart devices. This is conducive to more and more people around the world being open to the idea of wearables, and using them more and more often in their daily lives.
Smart watches and fitness trackers are some of the world’s most popular wearables. Also on the market, and even smaller and less noticeable are smart rings, with a diverse range of functions. Hearables, or Earwear, are another type of wearable already widely used. Hearables are earphones that can be networked wirelessly with devices like smartphones. Smartglasses and Augmented Reality & Virtual-Reality glasses are other available wearables.
According to many experts, the wearables’ market is still its infancy, despite the already enormous sales figures. In the future, wearable devices will further penetrate the health care and entertainment markets, as well as the world of work. There is enormous growth potential predicted for wearables in the field of mobile health devices. For example, the medical sector is conducting research in smart contact lenses, pills containing microprocessors and remote-controlled chips implanted in the body, which produce active pharmaceutical ingredients. Another example of the trend in wearables can be seen in their being worn not just on the body, but also in clothing or even inside the body. RFID chips, for example, can be glued to the skin, or even placed beneath it, and enable people to be identified and localized. Many sportswear manufacturers are developing smart sportswear and sports footwear, equipped with micro electronics and sensors.
The wearables market is booming. Numerous useful and helpful smart devices are available, which support our day-to-day lives, playing sport or at work. As technology is continuing to advance at a pace, and user acceptance is rising steadily, wearables will have an even greater impact on society and the world of work in the future.