Ninety million wearable devices to ship in 2014: ABI Research

Some 90 million wearable computing devices will be shipped this year, driven by burgeoning interest in sports, fitness and health applications, according to a new study from ABI Research.

“The next 12 months will be a critical period for the acceptance and adoption of wearable devices,” said Joshua Flood, a senior analyst with ABI Research. “Healthcare and sports and activity trackers are rapidly becoming mass-market products.”

“On the flipside, wearable devices like smart watches need to overcome some critical obstacles,” he added. “Aesthetic design, more compelling use cases, battery life and lower price points are the main inhibitors. How vendors approach these challenges and their respective solutions will affect the wearable market far in the future.”

ABI Research also reckons the much-discussed Google Glass product will not be a commercial success in 2014, even though it will generate interest in the wearables space.

Innovation among chipset vendors is paving the way for the emergence of new wearable devices, says ABI Research, but pricing, battery life and style will all play crucial roles in terms of market traction.

As a result of those limitations, the enterprise sector is likely to be the early target for devices such as smart glasses, before they become ready for mass-market adoption.

The market-research firm predicts that more than two million smart glasses will be shipped in 2014, with mobile-enabling technologies like augmented reality playing a vital part in enhancing smart glass capabilities.

Even so, smart glasses and smart watches will account for a small portion of the wearable device market in 2014, with medical, wellness and sports and activity devices accounting for the bulk of shipments.

ABI Research says activity trackers will continue to be the most popular wearable device as people monitor activity levels and energy output.

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