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Wearables to grow if they can be fashionable and functional

Matt Hamblen | March 3, 2016
IDC survey finds strong interest in wearables, but tech-savvy consumers want more stylish devices.

Garmin finished fourth for all of 2015, just barely ahead of Samsung, with 3.3 million wearables shipped compared to 3.1 million, respectively. Garmin recently announced Varia Vision, an augmented reality display to mount to sunglasses used by cyclists.

At MWC, Garmin announced Vivoactive HR, a smartwatch with heart rate monitoring, GPS and other functions.

Despite plenty of demonstrations of virtual reality gear from Samsung, LG and other vendors at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona last week, there seemed to be a shortage of major wearables announcements.

Also at MWC, Epson announced third-generation Moverio smart glasses for augmented reality that place a premium on good looks. The new BT-300 is 20% lighter than the previous BT-200 version and is powered by a quad-core Intel Atom X5 processor as well as Android 5.1, which enables 3D rendering. It has a 5-megapixel front camera and embedded sensors to precisely track locations of objects in the real world.

While smart glasses, so far, are a small portion of the overall wearables market, IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said there will be immense growth in other form factors, such as clothing, footwear and eyewear, in coming years. He warned that such form factors will "arguably require even more fashion sense than watches and bands."

IDC's survey found that Apple was the most popular brand for smartwatches and Nike the most popular for wearable clothing.

These consumers were categorized as tech savvy, highly social and extremely style conscious. The survey found that 71% agreed with the statement, "I believe wearables is the next big thing in technology." Also, 65% said they agreed that "wearables technology will positively impact daily life."

Allan Fromen, vice president for IDC's Global Buyer Behavior Practice, said the survey showed that these so-called "wearable intenders" are "enthusiastic about wearables but have hesitated to actually purchase a device."

Fromen said the survey findings show that vendors "have not yet cracked the code to deliver something that is both functional and fashionable. Companies clearly need to focus on the aesthetics of their product — perhaps more so than the features."

 

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