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Smart Textiles

Wearables worth over $50 billion

According to the latest finding, the total market size has doubled in size since 2014.

21st August 2019

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Boston, MA

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

According to the latest finding, the total market size has doubled in size since 2014, placing wearables as one of the most consistently successful markets around consumer electronics in the last five years. However, in 2019 headlines have been less frequent, investment has become more focused, and generally the hype around wearables has all but faded. IDTechEx’s study of wearable technology looks at how this sector has evolved over the last few years, and how things will change in the coming decade.

The report describes how the growth in the last five years has been driven by several key product types including smartwatches, continuous glucose monitoring devices (CGM), hearing aids, headphones and AR, VR & MR. The report looks at each of these sectors in detail, providing assessments and market data across all of the key players, technology, and in the current themes for each product area. In addition, there have been many new types of wearable technology product in this time, ranging from new types of electronic skin patch, to smart apparel based on electronic textiles, to other new form factors for devices from footwear, to rings, to headbands. In assessing 48 separate product types, the IDTechEx report is unique in its breadth of coverage across all wearable electronic products.

Wearable technology landscape

The report looks at the wearable technology landscape as a sum of its parts. The chapters in the report focus on each of the individual product sectors within the much wider theme of wearables. It is within these product sectors that the most comparison can be drawn, with discrete sets of players, themes, technology and progress, and relatively minimal overlap and competition between sectors. Each chapter in the report addresses a different sector, including smartwatches & fitness trackers, smart eyewear (including VR, AR and MR), hearables (including headphones and hearing aids), smart clothing and e-textiles, electronic skin patches, and overviews of various other themes.

Wearables: hype, revenue and growth rate. © IDTechEx

Through researching the topic over the last decade, IDTechEx have encountered thousands of different companies (e.g. maintaining a database of over 1200 companies), had site visits, face-to-face meetings and telephone interviews with several hundred of these companies, and have included key data from many of these conversations throughout the report.

Observing the bigger picture

The approach of looking by sector, but then observing the bigger picture of how these sit under the wearables banner reveals some very interesting trends from recent years. For example, IDTechEx track a series of relevant metrics to understand the "state of the industry", including search trends, patent trends, investment data (funding and number of rounds), number of product launches, and key revenue and product shipment volume data across each of the 48 product forecast lines included in the report.

When aggregating trend indicators together, it is possible to see the clear hype curve for wearables, peaking in 2015 and falling since. This hype curve actually correlates relatively well with the growth rate in the overall industry, increasing to a peak at 36% growth between 2014 and 2015, but falling to the 10-20% range per year ever since. However, despite the clearly reduced hype, this growth has led to a doubling in annual revenue generated in the sector in this time.

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