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Is the Wearable Market About to Explode?

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With Samsung & Apple both making big announcements (if not actually putting out products) and more and more venture money going into trackables of all kinds–including $120m for “chip in pill” maker Proteus–in the last 10 days, there’s tons of hype about consumer tracking in lots of modalities. Qualcomm is the guts behind lots of the chips and technologies that these all use, and have seeded the market with their 2Net data utility layer. (FD I am on the Qualcomm Life advisory board but own no stock). But is the hype justified? Qualcomm Life’s President Rick Valencia is an optimist, and you’ll hear from him at Health 2.0 this FallMatthew Holt

Look around. Chances are, someone around you is wearing one right now. I’m not talking about a baseball cap or a pair of minimalist running shoes. I’m talking about a connected device—a “wearable”—a fitness band, a smart watch, a pair of smart glasses…of maybe even connected clothing.

Ready or not, the wearable market is about to explode.

Right now, fitness-related wearables dominate the market—about 90 percent according to a February CNET report quoting Accenture. But by 2018, the market will expand, to where three categories—fitness/activity trackers, smart watches and infotainment, health care and medical categories—will take over 70% of the wearable space says ABI Research. In that same year, you also probably won’t have to look too hard for someone with a wearable, research firm IDC says the number of devices out there will be 118 million.

I too think we’re only touching the tip of the iceberg with wearables. There’s a lot of opportunity out there, not just in form factors but what’s possible with function and value.

Consider fitness bands. They give users real-time feedback on performance and, if you can upload the data to the cloud, onto a platform where you can compare your latest event with previous events, they are a great way to gauge progress. In addition, these cloud-based platforms give wearable device makers a place to begin engaging with customers.

These fitness applications are great, but can we go further?

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