The analyst firm Gartner has forecasted that worldwide end-user spend on wearable devices will reach $81.5 billion this year, representing an 18.1% increase over 2020 where spend reached $69 billion. The growth is being attributed to increased remote working and a higher interest in health monitoring.
According to the company’s data, spend in this market has been increasing since 2019 and is expected to continually grow through to 2022. In 2019, spend totalled $46.1 billion while spending in 2022 is expected to more than double to $93.8 billion. Though smartwatches were the biggest driver of the wearable market in 2019, ear-worn devices became the leader in 2020 and this is expected to remain the case through to 2022.
Commenting on the research, senior research director at Gartner Ranjit Atwal said:
“The introduction of health measures to self-track COVID-19 symptoms, along with increasing interest from consumers in their personal health and wellness during global lockdowns, presented a significant opportunity for the wearables market. Ear-worn devices and smartwatches are seeing particularly robust growth as consumers rely on these devices for remote work, fitness activities, health tracking and more.”
Gartner includes smartwatches, wristbands, ear-worn devices, head-mounted displays, smart clothing and smart patches in its definition of the wearable market. Of all these categories, only spend on wristbands is declining. Gartner didn’t explain why wristband spend is coming down; it could be that devices are being sold at a lower price or that companies like Apple are releasing cheaper smartwatches and drawing people away from wristbands.
As sensor accuracy improves with each iteration of wearables, the gap between medical and non-medical wearables is beginning to close. By 2024, Gartner also predicts that technologies will have been miniaturised enough where 10% of wearable technologies will become unobtrusive to the user which could open up many possibilities.