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Smart Textiles

IDTechEx to explore new opportunities and trends in wearable technology

Attended by 719 people and over 30 exhibitors in 2014, this is the largest show in the US with speakers covering progress in wearable technology.

30th July 2015

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Cambridge

Medical/Hygiene, Sports/​Outdoor, Clothing/​Footwear, Protective

The IDTechEx Wearable USA event, a unique international conference and exhibition that focuses on wearable technology requirements from big brands and industries, is set to take place in Santa Clara, US, from 18-19 November, and will address the latest trends and developments in the industry.  

Wearable technology

Attended by 719 people and over 30 exhibitors in 2014, this is the largest show in the US with speakers covering progress in wearable technology for fashion, healthcare, sportswear, enterprise and military applications.

As traditional consumer electronics devices begin to saturate, new markets are being explored and foremost among them is wearable technology. However, wearable gadgets thus far are mixed in terms of their success, consisting usually of bulky electronics with many limitations, power being one of them. This event looks at what is really wanted by featuring end users discussing needs and progress from multiple verticals.

Spotting the opportunities

Wearable technology is one of the most popular trends, organisers report. There has been a 10-fold increase in internet search interest since the beginning of 2013, with about US 1 billion invested in wearables in 2014 alone.

IDTechEx Research maintains an extremely comprehensive database of over 1200 companies across the entire wearables ecosystem. By constantly updating and growing this resource, it allows IDTechEx Research analysts to observe trends and identify opportunities for growth in this highly competitive field, which are highlighted at the event.

Wrist-worn devices

Wrist-worn devices are currently the most popular and publicized area in wearable technology. Smart watches in particular have been extremely prominent in the media, culminating in the eagerly anticipated Watch from Apple. Smart wristbands (such as the Fitbit Flex and Jawbone Up) have also become increasingly popular, with the market for fitness trackers being one of the key growth sectors.

These devices are an extremely promising prospect for developers; they contribute to the ever growing need to counter the global obesity epidemic, without requiring lengthy and costly clinical trials. Therefore, the market has become extremely competitive and the incorporation of a broader range of more reliable and accurate sensors is key to making a device stand out from the ever-growing crowd.

Convergence to the wrist is a sensible first step for developers given the limitations in truly flexible and integrated electronics. The electric watch has been around for nearly 60 years, and typically has form factor and specifications which fit well with many traditional electronic devices. However, there is a huge number of emerging technologies which will allow for developers to get creative as the industry expands beyond the wrist.

Way forward

In most cases, the way forward is to abandon the 100 year old components in a box approach of almost all manufacturers of wearable technology today, according to organisers.

“Instead, we shall use structural electronics where smart materials are key. This will be a cornucopia for manufacturers of electronic and electrically functional materials that can be made into structures using those increasingly crucial intermediate materials,” they report.

IDTechEx Research expects that in 2025 US 25 billion will be spent on formulations and intermediate materials, of the US 74 billion wearable technology industry.

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