Smart Clothing Will Make Wearable Tech ‘Worth Billions’

The increasing popularity of fitness-focused wearable devices is set to combine with a growing connected clothing market to hugely boost spending over the new five years, according to analyst figures out today.

A new study from Juniper Research has predicted that the fitness wearables sector will generate over $10 billion (£6.5bn) in hardware revenues by 2020, up from an estimated $3.3 billion ($2.16bn) this year.

This tripling effect will be largely driven by the sales of wrist-based trackers (such as the Microsoft Band 2, picture below), while hundreds of thousands of connected garments used by professional sports teams showcase wearable technology’s most advanced capabilities.

Connected

These devices will also offer more benefits to users than ever before, the report predicted, moving on from current capabilities such as heart rate monitoring and tracking steps and calories burnt towards more advanced analytics.

Professional sports organisations will also begin to use this information to drive more in-depth viewer engagement, helping fans get closer to sports action than ever before.

However, the question of who owns this data could become troublesome, as owners or organisations look to sell it to the highest bidder without claiming consent from the players or even the public themselves.

“Without clear boundaries for data ownership and use, biometrics could become part of sports players’ contracts, and even dictate initial hiring practices through predictive analytics,” noted research author James Moar.

“While wearables companies involved in corporate wellness have been very careful to ensure employers can only see aggregate data and that workers can opt out, pro sports have no such safeguards.”

Juniper’s figures are much higher than some other analyst estimates released earlier this year, with research firm Parks Associates estimating that the fitness tracker market will grow from $2 billion in 2014 to $5.4 billion by 2019.

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Mike Moore

Michael Moore joined TechWeek Europe in January 2014 as a trainee before graduating to Reporter later that year. He covers a wide range of topics, including but not limited to mobile devices, wearable tech, the Internet of Things, and financial technology.

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