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Consumer, healthcare, and industrial to drive wearable industry to potential value of $90B by 2020

Wearable electronics is one of the consumer market’s hottest topics. Indeed, giants like Apple, Samsung, Xiaomi, and Huawei are now competing for a slice of a very promising pie. Under this context, Yole Développement (Yole) releases a technology & market analysis entitled Sensors for Wearable Electronics & Mobile Healthcare. According to this analysis, the wearable industry will reach 295 million units by 2020, with a market value of US$90B. According to Yole’s report, three markets will drive this impressive growth: consumer, healthcare, and industrial.

Sensors for Wearable Electronics & Mobile Healthcare report is a comprehensive analysis providing a deep understanding of the wearable landscape, applications and market drivers. With this new technology and market analysis, Yole proposes an overview of the sensors portfolio for the wearable markets including inertial, pressure, biosensor, environmental. This report also presents a detailed technology and applications roadmap.

“Wearable technology is expected to be part of the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution, bringing useful information directly to the user in a more natural and friendly way than with traditional electronic devices,” commented Guillaume Girardin, Technology & Market Analyst, MEMS & Sensors at Yole.

Yole expects the consumer market, which is mostly comprised of fitness bands and smart watches to grow faster than the other two. The healthcare market, which covers devices like hearing aids, blood pressure monitors, and back monitor sensors, is expected to grow at a lower rate, since this market has already been growing for many years. Regarding the industrial market, Yole expected slow, steady growth through 2019, with a significant uptick commencing in 2020.

Until recently, wearable electronics were often associated with the healthcare market – typically, bulky medical devices with only a few features and not optimized for “customer-friendly” usage. Often times, these devices including hearing aids and blood pressure monitors, perform a single task and are solely dedicated to patient monitoring and/or well-being.

“They are not “smart devices.” Indeed their only mission is to accurately complete a single task. At Yole, we believe that a large part of the healthcare market will evolve in association with the consumer market, eventually blurring the lines between healthcare and consumer devices,” said Dr. Benjamin Roussel, Activity Leader, Medical Technology at Yole.

And Yole’s report details: in fact, the healthcare market will slowly merge with the consumer one, resulting in personalized medicine that involves self-monitoring of one’s health with smart and reliable devices. However, these kind of devices, which require a highly accurate, highly reliable tracking of biological signs in a non-invasive fashion, are not expected for another few years.

From a technology point of view, the “More than Moore” strategy consulting and market research company, Yole, analyses in this new report, the impact on the MEMS industry. Indeed, the MEMS sensors industry has acquired from the smartphone market a strong experience in inertial sensors, microphones, and pressure or environmental sensors.

Based on this experience, the MEMS players have pushed the boundaries of performance and size. Sensors are now small enough, reliable enough, and accurate enough to be included in a pocket-sized device of only 9cm3, while delivering a performance comparable to a smartphone from 2013! These sensors are the ones that wearable devices identified by Yole’s analysts and listed in this new report, until 2018.
The integration of biosensors (HRM, sweat sensor, skin temperature) is more difficult due to lack of experience, and technical challenges. Moreover, battery limitation is pushing the industry towards more optimization, even on the hardware side, through either packaging innovation or new designs with lower power consumption. Software is another area that’s acquiring value, with sensor fusion creating smarter sensors. Such improvements have led to sublime new features like context awareness or “always-on” sensors, which has increased device intelligence.

“All these improvements will lead the global sensors market for wearable from 112 million units in 2014, to 835 million units by 2020, which is proof that this market is still in its infancy”, confirms Guillaume Girardin from Yole.

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