Wearables Address Vertical Markets

Wearables – One of the key observations about wearable technologies is that so far consumer uptake has not been overwhelming. While fitness bands have been somewhat successful, some analysts believe that their long term success may be limited. Many developers of wearable devices appear to take a close look at enterprise opportunities for their products.

From a business perspective this may make a lot of sense, as vertical or enterprise markets are used to paying more for devices, based on the lower overall market size. Some corporate markets have been enjoying lower investment in IT through the use of consumer products. This has not always been very successful, as some of these enterprise markets require more functionality than is usually offered by consumer products.

ITProPortal reports that ABI Research has said that there will be 90 million wearable devices being sold in 2014, with a higher number expected in 2015. At first this sounds good news, but dividing this number into the various segments shows that the overall device numbers and market value are relatively low when compared to other mobile devices.

The company also quotes Juniper research as being bullish in this new market with smartglasses growing from 87,000 units this year to over 10 million by 2018. The analysts also state that the interest of app developers in enterprise applications is high, with 70% of software developers in the enterprise arena looking at working on appropriate solutions.

ABI Research sees significant potential in the use of consumer devices such as tablets and Google Glass in markets like logistics, for example. The use of mobile computing and voice commands will change the ability to perform more complex tasks in a distributed environment. Also, smartglasses could provide instant video feedback to command centers, as well provide field workers with the necessary information to complete a task. This added functionality could make logistics much more efficient. This argument can be easily extended to cover areas like field service, emergency services, medical services and many more business related functions.

If this vision becomes a reality, business may lead the way in the adoption of devices originally aimed at consumers. In the recent history of CE products that was rarely the case, typically it was the other way around. This does also raise the question if Google is the right company to bring augmented reality glasses to the professional markets. – Norbert Hildebrand