Quantified-Self Enthusiasts Driving Force In Wearables Boom at 2014 CES

12-26-2013 5-12-14 PM

Angela McIntyre, a research director at Gartner, said in a recent interview that an expected uptick in wearables at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show is being driven by a growing interest in monitoring daily fitness goals. McIntyre explains, “wearable electronics has its strongest consumer base among fitness enthusiasts and wider consumer interest in these devices is leading to broader adoption.” McIntyre predicts that this year’s CES will include announcements around wearable cameras, smart watches, and smart glasses.

The smart watch race, at this point, is essentially a one pony show. Samsung’s new smartwatch, the Galaxy Gear, was released in September and has seen a torrent of largely negative press since. In October, a leaked document suggested that the Galaxy Gear was seeing unprecedented 30 percent return rates on the units from unimpressed customers. Not long after, a South Korean business paper reported that after two months of sales, Samsung had only managed to sell 50,000 units. The company responded saying that they’d actually sold 800,000, but this number was widely disputed in the media and many contested that this number represents how many units “shipped,” rather than sold. It’s a safe bet that Samsung will address the struggling smartwatch during 2014 CES.

One of Galaxy Gear’s only competitors, a smartwatch startup named Pebble, announced just last week that it would launch a Pebble App store to begin supporting 3rd party app development.

Very much like the smartwatch market, the smart glasses market is nearly non-existent outside of technology media, and the buzz that is being generated is predominantly attributed to Google Glass. While Google may not take the stage themselves at CES, industry experts do predict that CES will draw an array of Glass competitors unveiling new products in the marketplace.

All of this activity, McIntrye reports, is being propelled by a groundswell of interest in the quantified-self movement, in which fitness enthusiasts attempt to measure their activity, sleep patterns, and other biometrics to gain a deeper understanding of their overall and day-to-day health.

McIntyre, clearly a firm believer that the wearables market is on the cusp of a boom, explains, “At CES, we will see athletic shirts with sensors woven in to track heart rate and respiration during training and competitions. Smart undershirts for infants will monitor their heart rate, breathing and sleep. Wearable devices for home health monitoring of the elderly will include clothing and accessories, such as wristbands that can track heart rate, monitor activity level during the day, detect falls, provide location information and send alerts to caregivers. With wearable technology, the elderly may to continue to live independently with reduced risk to their health and personal safety.”

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