Research points to further progress
Activity trackers have been kicking around for a while now, with the first commercially available devices having hit the market in the early 2000s. With the Apple Watch and FitBit currently running advertising campaigns via mainstream channels it might seem that this market might be at its peak. Indeed many within the industry have predicted this for sometime. But according to new research, there is life in the old dog yet.
New data from Juniper Research shows that fitness wearables will remain the primary wearable device, with smartwatches being less commonly used for the next 3 years. However, fitness wearables are expected to be used by approximately 110 million people worldwide at the end of 2019, while smartwatches will have more than 130 million users.
The new research observed 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.
Monetary incentives drive fitness wearables adoption
The research also highlighted the role of monetary incentives in driving future device adoption, emphasising its increasing role in corporate wellness schemes.
This is even more expressly the case 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 expect that wearables-measured performance will become a standard part of hiring practices, and potentially also players’ contractual obligations.
Healthcare wearables: Much promise, limited by practicalities
The research also noted 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.
Research author James Moar noted:
“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.”