Like it or not, Wearables are Here to Stay

WearableInfographicLook around you. Everyone seems to have a Fitbit, Jawbone, FuelBand or Sports Watch. You name it, and they’ve got it.

According to the market research company, Statista, wearable tech devices encompass more than $10 million dollars of market share and that number keeps growing exponentially every year. It is predicted that the wearable technology industry will exceed $50 million in the next five years.

As an early adopter in wearables, including being an original Google Glass explorer, my firm, HJMT, and I set out to do a research study in our community.

More than half (62%) said they own a fitness device. Forty-eight percent have a Fitbit, followed by Jawbone.

Fitness devices are perfect complements to the wearable technology market. You wear the device 24/7 around your wrist or your ankle. Once a day, you upload your data received from the device to your computer or through Bluetooth that connecting it to your iPad or smart phone. Then you can look at the data and see your progress. You can even share that progress with your friends on Facebook, Twitter or other social networking sites. I’ve been using the Garmin 910xt for my triathlon training.

Every time I swim, run or cycle, my data is calculated through the Garmin and then automatically uploaded to my computer to a program called Training Peaks. This program is displayed to my coach and he monitors my progress. This enables him to prepare training schedules for me.

Fitness devices aren’t the only wearables that are gaining popularity. One of the oldest wearable devices is the heart rate monitor. It is still one of the most popular wearables today – especially for athletes seeking to improve their game.

According to the HJMT Wearable Survey, nearly 67% who answered the survey own a pair of Google Glass, which enables the user to access various applications including Google Maps for directions, cooking instructions, and Lynxfit, which gives you instructions on exercise routines. These programs are unlimited and every day new apps are created for Glass. In addition to that, Google Glass has an amazing camera and video camera for crisp quality hands-free recording.

Other wearables that are gaining popularity include the Pebble and Samsung SmartWatches, which coordinate with your smart phone via Bluetooth. Instant messages, phone calls and appointments can also be found on your smart watch and on the smart phone simultaneously. The new iWatch, which just came, is also predicted to gain a big market share this holiday season.

One question on the HJMT Wearable Survey asked participants if they left their smart phone at home, would they turn around and go back to get it. Eight-eight percent said they would, while only 12% said they would leave it home.

When asked the same question about a wearable device, including a fitness device, 64% said they would leave it at home. One of the respondents said, “I would go back and get my phone in case of an emergency.”

So do wearables need to be connected with an emergency contact number? Many of these wearables used specifically for health purposes are already connected with a doctor’s office. And, all have GPS devices attached so that whoever is monitoring the device knows exactly where you are. Take an older person who lives alone. If he/she wears a health tracker, the physician’s office can monitor his/her health and if something happens or the person falls, the office can keep an eye on that as well. Isn’t that progress?

Many fear that these trackers are an invasion of privacy. That’s what many said when social networking sites became popular in 2007. But within the last seven years, users on social networking sites has reached an all time high of more than 75% of the population.

Interestingly, when I wore Google Glass in San Francisco and in Napa Valley this summer, people were coming up to me asking me what was on my face. When I said “Google Glass,” the response was, “wow, so cool.” I expected there to be more backlash as was publicized in many of publications. However, there was none of that. The only backlash that I have seen is the false belief some people have that Google Glass will somehow spy on you. It won’t.

Interestingly, according to the HJMT survey, the majority of the people who wear wearables on a daily basis exceeded six months. Only 12% reported wearing their devices for over a year and nearly 15% wore their wearables for two years or more. One responder said he’s been wearing his for more than three years.

What does this all mean?

Wearables are here to stay whether people are happy about it or not. And within the next five years, we predict that the majority of the people in this country will have at least one wearable device, whether it be a health-related wearable, fitness-related or virtual reality related.

What do you think?