Wearables, as the name suggests, are gadgets that can be worn. These devices usually have smart sensors and are connected to the internet for data exchange. Pulsar’s Calculator Wristwatch can be considered as the first consumer wearable device to achieve global success. In 2000, the first Bluetooth headset was sold and in 2004, the first GoPro was launched. Google Glass, released in 2013, was the first voice-operated optical head-mounted display product to combine hands-free internet access with augmented reality and the ability to capture images. The wearable market is promising, as the number of connected wearable devices worldwide is expected to jump from an estimate of 325 million in 2016 to over 830 million in 2020.
Businesses, military forces and medical professionals have been using wearable technology for decades, but the private consumer market has only recently started to feature items such as smart glasses, smart watches, hearables, fitness and health trackers, smart jewelry and smart clothing. The most successful wearable devices on the market right now are smart watches and health and fitness tracker. In fact, just over 170 million units of wearable wristwear devices are forecast to be shipped in 2020, more than any other wearable category. By 2018, smart watches are forecast to account for about half of all wearable unit sales worldwide. According to another forecast sales of smart watches are to reach 141 million units by 2018 worldwide. Apple’s operating system - watchOS - is the most used smart wristwear operating system at this time. watchOS is forecast to maintain this position until 2020, when Android/Android Wear is projected to become the most used wristwear OS.
The leading smart watch vendors are Apple, Samsung, Lenovo, Garmin and Pebble with Apple holding the largest share of the market. Despite its strong position in the smart watch market, Apple is not as strong of a player in the overall wearable industry. With a strong presence in the health and fitness wearable market, Fitbit has been a leader in the wearable industry since 2014, when the company held about 45 percent of the market share. As other companies such as Apple, Xiaomi, Garmin, and Samsung have also released wearable products, Fitbit’s market share has declined to around 20 percent at the end of 2016. In all of 2016 wearable device shipments amounted to almost 100 million units.
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