More than half of business and technology decision-makers in various industries, including retail, say implementing a strategy for wearable mobile technology will be a priority in 2015, according to a Forrester Research Inc. survey published in the new report “Five Urgent Truths About The Future Of Wearables That Every Leader Should Know.”
The study, which surveyed 3,104 professionals, finds 51% of respondents say wearables will be a moderate, high or critical priority. Another 17% call it a low priority and 27% say it’s not on the agenda. The figures do not add up to 100% because of rounding, Forrester says.
“Wearables are poised to take off,” says Forrester Research analyst J.P. Gownder, author of the report. “A combination of technology developments, vendor interest and new use cases is driving interest.”
Gownder cites inexpensive sensors, which are used in wearables to monitor activities such as health status, also is a reason for increasing demand as they lower the price of wearable devices. Companies also don’t want to miss new technology revolutions, “which come swiftly and which can transform companies’ needs within just a few years,” he says.
While wearables—including web-connected watches, fitness trackers, eyeglasses and attachable sensors for tracking an individual’s health—may not be mainstream yet, technology research firm Gartner projects wearables will grow to become a multi-billion-dollar market by 2016, according to the research firm’s forecast, “Top 10 Mobile Technologies for 2015 and 2016.”
Among the big imminent developments in wearables is Apple’s planned release of its smartwatch, the Apple Watch, in early 2015. Apple essentially created the market for smartphones when it released the iPhone in 2007 and did the same for tablets when it released the iPad in 2010. The question is: Can Apple do it again?
“The attention of the world is focused on Apple Watch, but it’s really the entire wearables category that Apple has legitimized with its product announcement,” Gownder writes.
Consumers are paying attention, as Forrester reports 45% of U.S. online adults say they are intrigued by the prospect of getting a wearable device, in a separate survey of 4,500 consumers. Respondents already interested in wearables, 2,000 of the 4,500, cited numerous apps they would like to use on wearables. 66% say they would use wearables for access to maps, for example.
When it comes to mobile commerce, 53% of adults intrigued by wearables say they would like to see information about products on wearables while shopping, and 30% would like to receive proactive promotions from retailers on these devices, Forrester reports. Half of respondents would like to conduct online searches for information with a wearable.
To date, 10% of U.S. online adults report having used a wearable device. Fitness trackers—such as Fitbit and Jawbone that track daily activity and are worn on the wrist—are leading the way, but are only one slice of the wearables pie.
“The fitness tracker segment of the wearables market is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the total addressable market,” Gownder writes.
After the wrist, at 42% interest level, respondents say they would be interested in wearing a sensor device from a brand they trusted—for example, for receiving information or special offers while shopping—in this order: clipped onto clothing, earbuds/headphones, clipped onto shoe, embedded in clothing, glasses, embedded in jewelry, and upper arm. Less than 10% of respondents say they would be interested in wearables in their toothbrush, contact lenses, around the chest or tattooed on skin.
Follow mobile business journalist April Dahlquist, associate editor, mobile, at Internet Retailer, at @MobileInsiderAD.Favorite