Specialised fitness wearables integrated into clothing and ear-based ‘hearables’ are expected to grow more quickly than activity trackers.

A new research report from Juniper Research forecasts hearables and smart clothing will grow from an expected 4.5 million shipped in 2018 to nearly 30 million in 2022, an increase of more than 550 per cent.

By contrast, conventional activity tracker shipments will only grow by 20 per cent in that time.

The new research, Health & Fitness Wearables: Vendor Strategies, Trends & Forecasts 2018-2022, found that as growth in basic trackers has slowed, session specific wearables, for example those monitoring gym or training sessions, have multiplied.

Devices from companies like Under Armour, Sensoria, Gymwatch, Atlas and Jabra provide more granular metrics, without the additional messaging and call-handling functions of more general wearables.

The research found that as detailed metrics become widespread amongst all vendors, lifestyle tracking leaders such as Fitbit and Huami will decline in market share. Combined, these players will account for 28 per cent of total fitness wearable shipments by 2022, down from over 40 per cent in 2017.

The research found that the key battleground for fitness wearables is now data, which will ultimately become device-agnostic, thanks to initiatives like Suunto’s Movesense platform. Due to a lack of consumer interest, however, Juniper expects fitness software and services revenues to remain under $200 million per annum over the next four years.

Despite the promise of wearables in healthcare, there is little specialised hardware available, with fitness wearables being adapted for healthcare purposes. Juniper expects healthcare wearables to make up under a third of all of the sector’s devices in use by 2022, as regulation slows roll-outs and keeps prices high.

“Healthcare usage has long been the goal of many wearables manufacturers,” said research author James Moar.

“However, more research needs to be done on activity tracking in order to make typical wearables data clinically meaningful to healthcare professionals.”

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