What factors are driving the wearable market, where is the market going, and what opportunities exist for entrepreneurs in the coming years?
I have been thinking about these issues and evaluating various wearable technologies to see how they can be used in a clinical setting.
There are large number of wearable products on the market today – different form factors for different client applications and usage. Some have APIs for third party for software developers while most are closed systems. While a number of large companies, such as Google and Samsung, are in the market many of the products are from small entrepreneurial startups.
I recently attended a talk by Tom Emrich, organizer of the Toronto Wearable Meetup, on the wearable marketplace. He discussed many of the issues related to this market.
Factors Driving the Wearable Market
Tom identified three factors driving the proliferation of wearable products in the market today.
- Readily available component technologies. Tom mentioned that there is a readily available supply of low cost components for small form factor wearable products. Sensors, Bluetooth components and other key components are inexpensive and available for entrepreneurs to use in their designs.
- 3D Printing. Tom stated that 3D Printing allows companies to easily design and fabricate their wearable products.
- Access to Crowd Funding. Many of the startup companies are leveraging crowd funding sources such as Kickstarter to fund their development plans and test market acceptance
Wearable Market Direction
Easy access to core technologies, capital, and a wide range of applications has lead to a proliferation of wearable devices on the market.
Not all will get a footing in the market and survive. However, Tom identified several characteristics of the evolving wearable market:
- Companies that solve a specific client problem will succeed. The companies that succeed will focus on solving a customer problem and doing it well. Tom pointed out two companies that he thinks have it right: Bionik Labs and eSight.
- There will be multiple devices in multiple form factors. Tom indicated that since there is a wide range of specialized applications for each of the wearable products, there will be a wide range of form factors. Unlike mobile smartphones, the market will not converge on one or two suppliers.
- The market will converge on software. Software platforms like Apple’s Healthkit and Google Health could evolve to be common cloud based platforms to house and manage client data coming from wearable devices. Today most of the wearables have closed software environments. A common API could allow third party software developers to add value and help proliferate the market.
Wearable Market Opportunities
I believe that the device manufacturers need a healthy ecosystem of third party software developers to leverage and help them succeed. Third party developers who understand specific market applications and can access large market segments could see significant success as the market develops.
This article is part of my Digital Health guide.