Wearable Technology Show 2016

UK’s Biggest Wearables Event Offers a Glimpse of the Future

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Wearable Technology Show in London.

Contrary to the show’s name, it wasn’t just about wearable technology. The Augmented Reality Show and IoT Connect were also parts of an event that has come a long way since it started in 2014. This year it had over 220 speakers, 140 exhibitors and more than 40 UK product launches.

Augmented and Virtual Reality

With the highly-anticipated virtual reality devices from HTC, Facebook (Oculus) and Sony just around the corner, it’s clear that we’re at a tipping point for the technology. The success of virtual reality seems more likely than ever, thanks to recent advancements in mobile technology, positive consumer reactions and significant investments by hardware manufacturers and content providers.

Presentations and panel discussions at the augmented and virtual reality theatre revolved heavily around augmented reality’s opportunities in the enterprise. This was reflected by the exhibition hall, where companies such as Atheer, Epson and Vuzix showcased their enterprise solutions.

By my count there were 16 different exhibitors specialising in augmented and virtual reality, although they were just a fraction of the rapidly-growing number of device manufacturers and content providers that have started to make significant moves in this hot area. According to CCS Insight’s wearables market forecast, this year we expect sales of 15 million augmented and virtual reality devices, rising to 96 million in 2020. Most of these will be virtual reality headsets, driven by games and media content; we expect augmented reality to take hold among businesses.

Medical Wearables

At the show, there were numerous companies exhibiting educational and medical solutions. However, our discussions with people in the healthcare industry indicate that large-scale deployments of these innovative solutions are a long way away.

Although there are some ongoing trials by specialised doctors and clinics, mostly in the US, we expect many of wearable medical devices will take at three to five years before become commercial products. This is largely because of the lengthy process of approvals and certifications each product has to go through.

Smart Clothing

Many leading smart clothing companies were exhibiting, including AiQ, Clothing+ and Hexoskin. Although we believe smart clothing has great potential, we do not expect it to become a mass-market phenomenon within the next two years. Adoption of biometric-sensing smart clothing will start with professional athletes and sports enthusiasts this year and next. Under Armour in particular is well placed to seize opportunities in the near term. Earlier this year it announced a whole range of wearables, including the activity-tracking Gemini 2 Record trainers, and we expect the company to integrate smart technology into its line of compression garments and trainers.

CCS Insight’s wearables service includes a global market forecast, an extensive database of over 500 wearable devices, regular reports on various market categories and monthly updates on the latest wearables-related developments. We also conduct an annual wearable end-user survey. For more details see here.