Wearable Tech World Feature Article
March 04, 2015

Wearable Tech May be the Next Big Sensor Market

Sensors are an exciting new technology. While for a long time, such devices were the province of science fiction—how much exposition did sensors provide us in the various “Star Trek” installments?—such devices are becoming a large part of the real world. Smartphones and tablets proved to be a huge market for the devices, allowing them to recognize a current location, where other things are in relation, and a host of other features. A new Frost & Sullivan report suggests that the next big market for sensors is likely to be wearable technology.

The Frost & Sullivan report in question, titled “Wearable Electronics Enabled by Sensors”, suggests that the sensors market was already a major force in the field, bringing in $108 million in revenues in 2014. But by 2020, this amount will swell to nearly eight times that number, bringing in a projected $800 million. The report further notes that it's not sensor components that will be the biggest part of this market, but rather, complete sensor platforms; such platforms, when put in use, will shorten the time to market and make more innovation possible. That said, sensor platform companies are going to have to work hard at innovation as well, keeping things like wireless connectivity and low-power systems in place to ensure that the interest in these systems exists.

Frost & Sullivan's senior industry analyst in measurement and instrumentation sensors, Sankara Narayanan, commented on just what was going to drive the sensor market.

Sensor platforms fill the software-hardware knowledge gap, enabling rapid prototyping of wearables and helping wearable designers do their own hardware design,” Narayanan said. He added that the wearable tech market in general was likely to see big growth through an array of industries and form factors. Narayanan cited growth in healthcare, in fitness, and in wellness fields, but also in heads-up displays and smart fabrics.

On the surface, the Frost & Sullivan research makes perfect sense. Some have suggested that wearable devices would ultimately take a lot of the tablet and smartphone market in much the same way tablets and smartphones took a lot of the PC market. If that were to be the case, then the sensor market would see an explosive climb in the process. One of the big reasons people moved from PCs to smartphones was mobility, and there are few things in life more mobile than that which we wear. Also, other factors need to be considered; for example, how Google Glass was gaining ground as a work device, where field reps could get rapid access to information, or repair technicians could consult schematics on a hands-free basis.

Wearable devices are still a comparatively young technology, and we have a long way to go before something comes along to replace these. But if the market continues as it's been for some time now, wearable devices may take off in a big way. If that happens, sensors and sensor platforms can't be far behind.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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