The market for wearable gadgets is set to get a boost from the overall booming consumer tech market, which is expected to generate a record-breaking $487 billion in revenue in this year, according to a report from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA).
The report projected shipments of connected health monitoring devices such as smart thermometers, pulse oximeters and blood pressure monitors would grow to 13 million units (up 23%) and earn $740 million in revenue – a 17% increase.
The total revenue of health and fitness tech will reach $13 billion in 2021, a 12% growth over last year, according to the report. Smartwatches, which allow users to maintain their fitness schedules and track metrics, will grow 8% in unit shipments.
For the first time, the CTA also included connected exercise equipment such as stationary bikes, rowers and treadmills in this report.
The organization noted that with demand for products such as Peloton and MYXfitness soaring, roughly 1.5 million units were shipped in 2020, and projected that in 2021 the devices will cross 2 million (a 43% rise) and earn $3.9 billion (a 40% increase).
“The pandemic strengthened consumers’ relationship with technology forever,” Gary Shapiro, president and CEO of the CTA, said in a statement. “From working to learning, staying connected with loved ones and taking care of our health, tech played a crucial role in improving our lives.”
A May report from research firm IDC also indicated the appetite for wearable devices remained strong in the first quarter of 2021, even as volumes retreated from record fourth-quarter levels.
While market leaders like Apple and Samsung maintained double-digit market shares during the quarter, most of the growth came from smaller companies, and newer form factors like smart patches are also starting to gain some traction.
Smart patches are noninvasive health-monitoring sensors which stick to the skin surface and are used to measure temperature, heart rate, blood sugar and other vital statistics more effectively than other wearable technologies.
They can also remotely administer medication, such as insulin for diabetic patients. The report noted the shift to e-health, accelerated by the pandemic, would likely transform users’ perceptions of automated health opportunities and further increase demand.
A Gartner report from January projected global spending on wearable devices would total $81.5 billion this year, driven by increased interest in health monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The introduction of health measures to self-track COVID-19 symptoms, along with increasing interest from consumers in their personal health and wellness during global lockdowns, presented a significant opportunity for the wearables market,” Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner noted in a statement.
The report found ear-worn devices and smartwatches saw particularly robust growth as consumers rely on these devices for fitness activities and health tracking.