Smart clothing to overtake wristbands in war of the wearables
Tue 18 Nov 2014
Fitness wristbands are expected to peak over the next year before starting a gradual decline, a Gartner report has claimed.
Wearable bands have dominated the consumer tech market this year, with sales expected to rocket over Christmas. Currys has predicted that the Samsung Gear Fit will be the number one technology gift over the festive period.
Despite this popularity, the analyst firm suggest that fitness wristbands will give way next year to smart clothing and smartwatches which will become the more desired devices.
Ralph Lauren has been one of the fashion houses pioneering this trend with their Smart Polo Tech shirt, available next year. The t-shirt has an integrated network of sensors which can track biometric data such as heart rate and calories burned. Its smart fibres can then transfer the collected information to mobile devices across Bluetooth.
Gartner analyst Angel McIntyre explained that due to the increased number of sensors in smart clothing and their proximity to the skin, these fitness devices are more equipped to gather a broader and more accurate range of data than wristbands – measuring for example “the full wave of the heart beat rather than just the pulse.”
“First generation smart shirts have been available from companies like Adidas and Underarmour for a while now marketing them to professional athletes, but we’re starting to see interest from regular manufacturers of garments for a much larger audience,” said McIntyre.
Gartner has predicted that 10mn pieces of smart clothing will launch in shops for the consumer market over 2015. By 2016, this figure is expected to hit 26mn, as opposed to a forecasted 19mn for fitness bands.
Smartwatch is predicted to be another growth area, according to the research group. Products such as Apple Watch have embedded fitness apps which Gartner suggests will inevitably absorb wristband sales. Smartwatches are expected to sell 40mn over the course of next year, and 60mn in 2016.
Other ambitious designs for smart clothing continue to make an impact in the wearable arena – including Lechal’s navigational smart shoes and the Nemesis military uniform designed by Raven Aerostar for US soldiers to camouflage their body heat.