Wearable devices makers to increasingly target healthcare: ABI Research

Heart-rate and activity monitoring products dominated shipments of wearable wireless devices in 2013, according to a study from ABI Research.

According to the market-research player, heart-rate monitoring remains the post popular device functionality – more than 12 million devices allowing users to monitor their heart rate were shipped in 2013.

Most of these were what ABI Research calls “single function devices” that communicate with nearby hubs, such as smartphones or activity sports watches.

However, pedometers and activity trackers also proved popular, accounting for around 16 million devices shipped in 2013.

“The market for wearable computing devices is driven by a growing range of wireless connected wearable sports, fitness and wellbeing devices,” says Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research. “Heart-rate and activity monitors will outpace shipments of smart watches and glasses for some years to come and they will also provide the essential foundation for the development of the broader wearable market.”

A number of major consumer device makers have launched wearable devices in the last year, including Google (Mountain View, CA, USA), Samsung (Seoul, South Korea) and Sony (Tokyo, Japan), and ABI Research expects Apple to follow suit this year.

Nevertheless, despite the interest and appeal of smart watches and glasses, sports and activity sensing are likely to remain a “key wearable device format well through 2019”, says ABI Research, with vendors including Garmin (Olathe, KS, USA), Polar (Warwick, UK), Nike (Beaverton, OR, USA) and FitBit (San Francisco, CA, USA) all targeting this opportunity.

ABI Research says that wearable devices will increasingly move into the field of healthcare services over the next five years.

It says that general-use wearable devices will increasingly support aspects of health monitoring.

“The interplay between health monitoring and wearable devices will be crucial in the development of both these markets,” added Collins.

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