Fitness wearables will remain the primary wearable device, with smartwatches being less commonly used for the next three years. However, smartwatches will overtake fitness wearables by the end of 2019, with more than 130m users, compared to 110m people worldwide using fitness wearables.
The forecasts come from a new study from Juniper Research, Future Health & Fitness Wearables: Business Models, Forecasts & Vendor Share 2016-2020. The report notes that the lines between the categories are starting to blur, with fitness wearables offering a range of call-handling and notification functions that can also be found in smartwatches. The existence of app-enabled fitness trackers, such as the Samsung Gear Fit and Microsoft Band, lessens the distinction even further. A recent Juniper Research Consumer Wearables Survey also found that fitness devices are the most popular wearables because they are both cheaper and have a more obvious use than current smartwatches.
The research also highlights the role of monetary incentives in driving future device adoption, emphasising its increasing role in corporate wellness schemes. This trend is even more pronounced in the professional sports world, where wearables are becoming part of the training regimes of many teams, and form the majority of the market for clothes with integral fitness tracking. Over time, Juniper expects that wearables-measured performance will become a standard part of hiring practices, and potentially also players’ contractual obligations.
The research also notes that while future electronic healthcare records will drive the use of dedicated wearables, the price of the devices and dependence on smartphones will hold them back from full adoption by universal healthcare systems.
“The use of wearables to track health shows promise, but such devices will not reach their full potential until they can become less dependent on mobile devices to relay their information, in addition to meeting healthcare data storage and relay requirements,” commented report author, James Moar.
There’s a whitepaper with more information and statistics available to download here.