Wearable Tech World Feature Article
March 26, 2014

Battery Market to Get Eight Figure Boost Over Four Years from Wearable Tech

While the market for wearable technology has become rather self-evident in recent months—with a host of new devices not only making a big splash on places like Kickstarter but also showing up from some of the biggest names in tech like Google—there's an ancillary market that hasn't been so closely considered, but is likely to get a major windfall out of the growth of wearable technology. Specifically, the market in question is the battery field, and a new report from IHS Technology shows that this market is in for some very good times ahead.

The IHS report—titled “Batteries in Portable Consumer Electronics – World 2014,” part of IHS' Power & Energy service--suggests that, in just four years, the market for batteries the world over will grow “more than tenfold.” The worldwide revenue projection for batteries in wearable electronics is set to hit fully $77 million by 2018, and considering that the current revenue for that market is only set to reach about $6 million at the end of this year, the market clearly has an explosion on its hands. But even the comparatively paltry $6 million market projected for the end of this year represents a pretty hefty hike in its own right from last year, when the market was virtually nil.

The market will be driven mainly, according to the reports, by lithium polymer batteries, set to represent around 73 percent of the total revenue in the field of wearable electronics batteries. Since lithium polymer batteries are lightweight—especially as compared to normal lithium-ion batteries—and can be put into a variety of shapes, that makes such devices particularly sought after in terms of wearable tech. Indeed, batteries need to come in different shapes to match the devices in question; arm-mounted devices might need a curved shape, or batteries going into a shirt or jacket might need to be long, flat or thin, potentially even a combination of all three.

IHS power supply and storage component analyst Thomas McAlpine offered some further comment on the issue, noting that “The tremendous expansion in store will come thanks to an increase in the shipments of smartwatch products, wearable health monitoring devices and smart glasses—products geared toward an active lifestyle combining advanced technological trends in miniature computing with newly smart consumer imperatives in fitness and fashion.”

However, wearables won't be alone in terms of the battery market, as the report notes that smartphone and tablet batteries will continue to throw into the market via demand for such devices. But shipments are expected to decrease starting in 2015, and overall growth will start to decelerate.

The market appears to be diversifying in the face of an eventual decline in demand for batteries in other devices, a development which makes sense, particularly as more users land a device of choice and stick with it for some time. But as wearables start to come into play as a product market, that's going to help perk some of that lost demand back up and even drive new demand as a comparatively new market segment for head-mounted devices and other wearables, from Google Glass to the Pebble smartwatch and everything in between, catch on.

Wearable tech is a big market in the making, and batteries will be a large part of what drives such a market. Only time will tell if the projections mesh with reality, but the early projections aren't out of line.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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