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Wearable Electronics and Semiconductor Markets

  • March 2017
  • 172 pages
  • Information Network
Report ID: 2454779

Summary

Table of Contents

Beyond the fitness/health niches, all the general purpose wearables today are really a consumer "solution" that don't add much convenience to our lives - but still incur considerable cost and inconvenience of their own. That will change soon.The healthcare industry is one of the biggest opportunities for wearables, which will be used to provide data management and display systems, enabling doctors to, handle the flood of electronic health data and access it when they need it -- while examining a patient.
This report analyzes the wearable industry and markets for the two wearable camps described above. Forecasts are also presented for semiconductor content and markets for MEMs devices, sensors, CPUs and low-power MPUs, GPS, and connectivity chips.


Wearables are small electronic devices, often consisting of one or more sensors and having computational capability. They are embedded into items that attach to the body, such as a user’s head, feet, arms, wrists and waist. They can resemble a watch, eyeglasses, clothing, contact lenses, shoes or even jewelery. Wearables either capture data or present data. The types of data collected could be as simple as the number of steps taken in a day or as complex as ECG or brainwave measurements. For output, wearables can convey information to the user through a variety of means, from the blinking of an LED light to a complex display of data.

We consider a Wearable computing device, as one that ultimately either provides data via a highly portable device that a consumer can wear (such as Google Glass and or the smart watch), or one that takes some form of measurement and data from a consumer like a fitness band or watch. Sizing such a market is challenging,

Wearables have broader applications then just fitness and health. And while consumer applications drive the market, many of the design, usability, manufacturing, and production are adaptable to commercial, military, and medicinal applications as well.

Commercial

Wearable tech has many enterprise-level applications for businesses. An April 2014 survey of businesses indicated that the majority did not plan to implement wearables on an enterprise level, but that even of those that did not, they expected that, if they did, the benefits would include “improved communication, enhanced productivity, and better customer relations.” A recent University of London study confirmed this, concluding, after a month-long experiment, that wearables can boost productivity and job satisfaction in the workplace.

Enterprise-level applications include enhancing resource access to, and tracking the whereabouts of, remote workers; enhanced communication (through wireless headsets and wristbands, for moving employees such as retail workers); augmented vision (through smart glasses, used for example, in the construction industry, to “see” inside walls); and increased payment options (through a wristwatch, for example). Further wearables have considerable industry-specific applications for uniformed professions, such as law enforcement and emergency medical technicians.

But perhaps the biggest benefit of wearables for business is the data that wearables collect. Such consumer information could be invaluable to marketing and sales departments. This application of wearable tech has doubtlessly influenced the entry of large firms, such as Google, Intel, Qualcomm, and Samsung.

Consumer

There are a number of consumer wearables currently on the market, ranging from smart wristwatches to smart contact lenses to sensor-integrated clothes. Examples include XOEye’s XOne camera glasses; CSR’s smart jewelry, which can be worn around the neck and blinks when the wearer receives a phone call; SafeNecklace, which can monitor kids during field trips; OMSignal’s spandex shirt, which can monitor a wearer’s vital functions Lumo’s posture correcting belt, the Bluetooth LumoBack belt; the Pebble Steel smartwatch, on which the wearer can receive text messages and emails; and Sensoria’s electronic anklet which tracks the wearer’s speed and distance, just to name a few. There are even electronic tattoos under development. However, the consumer market for wearables is extremely fragmented.

Military

One wearables enthusiast is the U.S. military, which sees the technology providing enhanced efficiency for soldiers. Wearables that can monitor the vital signs of soldiers can be the difference between life and death. Other wearables, in the form of helmets, overlay information over a soldier’s eyes to increase their awareness of their surroundings. An example of this is the Aviation Warrior, a wearables system developed by Raytheon, which includes a helmet, wrist display and portable computing device, all designed to provide the soldier with as much information as possible about who is on the battlefield in real-time.

The military is not limited in the scope of its wearables-related thinking to soldiers. Under development is a wearable that can “translate” the actions of military animals. The system is known as FIDO (facilitating interactions for dogs with occupations”), and after training, the dog could activate different sensors to activate different things, for example a tug to issue a beep to indicate the presence of an explosive.

Medical

Another early adopter of wearables is the medical community, many members of whom are interested in miniature wearables for healthcare monitoring. One such wearable is MC10’s ultra-thin Biostamp, which, when affixed to the body, can monitor heart rate, temperature and other vital statistics, and can send that information wirelessly back to doctors. Others include a bandaid by medical sensor company Corventis that monitors heart conditions; a muscle contraction sensor by TMG that measures muscle fatigue; and a “smart” insole by Moticon for use in patient analysis, monitoring, and rehabilitation.

Wearables have further applications in clinical practice, such as the 9Solutions IPCS, a device that tracks medical staff and equipment in real-time.

Other

Other applications of wearable tech include, but are not limited to recording car accidents for insurance purposes; law enforcement surveillance; mapping terrain for outdoor activities in real-time; and serving as memory aids.

1.2 MARKET DRIVERS

Several factors are converging to facilitate wearable technology integration including:

• Expanded wireless capacity due to pervasive wireless (WiFi, WiMAX, and LTE);
• Cellular market saturation and the need for wireless companies to establish new revenue streams;
• Continuously decreasing cost of data, and the significant backing from huge companies including Google, Apple, and others.

There are three major factors driving the proliferation of wearable products in the market today.

• Readily available component technologies. 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. 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

1.3 DEMOGRAPHIC FACTORS

A nuanced understanding of demographics such as age, gender, and income can point to technology preferences and help drive customization and targeting of users. Take, for example, mobile health (mHealth) experiences. mHealth programs should be designed to be operable via multiple communication platforms and channels such as phones, tablets, laptops, and social media.

• The platform for mHealth already exists. Smartphone ownership in the United States is at a high and still growing. Almost all U.S. adults own a cell phone, half of which are smartphones. And, over two in five (42 percent) own a tablet. On average, a U.S. adult carries three devices, with the most popular being a smartphone.5 Mobile devices are heavily used for connectivity; Internet usage among U.S. adult mobile phone owners is now at 63 percent, twice as high as in 2009, and at least half of owners have downloaded an application (app). One in three U.S. consumers has used their mobile phone to look for health information.

Consumers have a growing interest in mHealth. Millennials (born 1982-1994), in particular, are already dabbling in the technology. They demonstrate a generational difference in interest – twice as many Millennials as overall respondents in a recent survey said they downloaded a health tracking app (19 percent of Millennials vs. 10 percent of all respondents). Similarly, one in four Millennials has used smartphones and tablet apps to manage and monitor their fitness and health improvement goals such as exercise or diet (25 percent of Millennials vs. 17 percent of all respondents).

• Smartphone ownership by U.S. adults aged 50-65 years increased from 34 percent to 45 percent between 2012 and 2013. Over the same period, smartphone ownership by Seniors (aged 65+ years) grew by seven percent. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), in particular, are expected to combine an interest in technology with substantial purchasing power to generate the fastest year-on-year growth in smartphone penetration in 2014.10 Around one in five Boomers has never downloaded an app vs. one in 10 of all age groupings. This may present both a challenge and an opportunity to carriers and health providers to engage this group in mHealth-oriented technologies and behaviors.

1.4 EMERGING MARKETS AND APPLICATIONS

Proponents of wearable technology are already talking about in-vehicle integration with wearable technologies worn by a driver. For instance, physical fitness monitors in the future will help vehicles determine climate control settings and measure the driver’s stress and fatigue levels, or even monitor a driver’s alcohol or blood sugar levels. Just as with in-vehicle smartphone integration, Most vehicles will be able to interface with wearable devices. As the use (and sophistication) of these devices proliferates, some industry observers predict that in-vehicle integration with wearable technology by either third-party providers or automotive OEMs will become widespread by 2024.

Another emerging application is hands-free wearable digital cameras that are either strapped around the neck or clipped to clothing, which continuously take photos, typically every 30 seconds. These wearable cameras use GPS to track where photos were taken and can store between 6,000 and 12,000 images. Wearable cameras currently on the market include Narrative Clip, Autographer, and Memoto. Marketed as “lifelogging devices,” they seek to record and archive all information about our daily lives, which could have positive implications with, for instance Alzheimer’s patients, or negative implications in terms of privacy violations. Ultimately, these digital images will be viewed as discoverable evidence and could be subpoenaed during lawsuits involving fleet vehicles. Wearable cameras can also provide positive ramifications, especially if photos help exonerate a fleet driver’s culpability or alleged negligence.

Wearable technology is being heralded by its proponents as a dawn of a new era by integrating digital and physical reality. It is inevitable that employees and businesses will be among the early adopters of these devices and use them in the workplace as productivity tools. Preliminary studies indicate that employees using prototype wearable devices increased their productivity by 8.5 percent and their job satisfaction by 3.5 percent. But, are there unintended consequences, especially when used by a mobile workforce?

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