Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Wearables market could be goldmine for sensor manufacturers

Steve Rogerson
March 3, 2015
The wearable devices space could be the next goldmine of opportunity for sensor manufacturers as profits shrink in the smartphone and tablet segments, according to a report from market watcher Frost & Sullivan. Further, the sensor landscape for wearable devices will gain a new dimension through the entry of software and hardware giants such as Google, Apple, Samsung and Intel.
The analysis found that the sensors market earned revenues of $108m in 2014 and estimates this to catapult to $800m in 2020.
"Rising average life expectancy and increasing awareness on health and fitness monitoring have fuelled the adoption of wearable devices," said Frost & Sullivan measurement and instrumentation senior industry analyst Sankara Narayanan. "In addition to clinical healthcare, medical, fitness and wellness applications, the wearables market is witnessing a series of new product launches, such as heads-up displays, smart watches, smart fabrics, wrist bands and glasses that are used across various consumer, industrial and other verticals. As the need to collect various physiological data and quantified self-movement surges, wearables will incorporate more complex electronics and sensors."
Since the wearable electronics ecosystem is complex, a combination of both hardware and software knowledge is required for companies to make it big in the industry. Many firms do not have the skill to design products from scratch. Further, the need to integrate a large number of sensors inside a wearable device poses serious problems in terms of battery life and time to market.
Sensor platforms, rather than sensor components, will play a critical role in wearable device innovation and shortening time to market, says the report. Sensor platform companies, with expertise in sensors, low-power processing and wireless connectivity, can design products with the desired number of sensors while ensuring robust battery life and reduced power consumption.
"Sensor platforms fill the software-hardware knowledge gap, enabling rapid prototyping of wearables and helping wearable designers do their own hardware design," said Narayanan.

• GfK’s trends data show that 13.5 million health and fitness trackers were sold globally last year, compared with 4.1 million smart watches. With major companies expected to enter the market this year, GfK predicts that the combined market will leap to 51.2 million sales in 2015 – three times the size of 2014 – with both segments showing equal importance in this converging market.