Reports: Wearables primed for big growth, with Apple Watch driving adoption

Smartwatches and fitness trackers will be at the forefront as the global wearable device market grows from 17 million shipments in 2013 to 187.2 million by 2020, representing a 34 percent market growth, according to a new Tractica report.

"Wearable computing is moving past the early adopter stage and the industry is beginning to see the first glimpses of how it will have a profound influence on the future of human interaction with technology," according to an announcement on the report.

A big factor is the Apple Watch, debuting in April, which the report describes as one of the first mass-market wearables, and which will spur wearable adoption overall.

"The wearables industry has lacked a true 'hero' device until now, and we believe that Apple will provide the momentum and scale to drive significant awareness and growth in the sector, just as it did previously for smartphones and tablets," Tractica Research Director Aditya Kaul says in the announcement.

Apple Watch will share the global wearable stage with a increasing variety of emerging competitive devices, built on the Android platform, that will range from wearable cameras, body sensors to smartglasses and clothing.

A new Canalys report says more than 720,000 Android Wear devices shipped in 2014, of the 4.6 million smart wearable bands in total. Fitbit rules as the global leader in the basic wearable band market, the report adds, but is has a lot of competition. Samsung, which launched six wearables in 14 months, is viewed as the smartband market leader, the report says. But whether it continues to hold that perch is a big question mark given moves by competitors.

Motorola and its Moto 360, and LG and its round G Watch R, can't be ignored, the research firm adds. In addition, last year brought the debut of Asus and Sony wearables.

Yet not everyone's convinced that wearables are viable mHealth tools as yet.

While physicians and medical practitioners may be excited about such tech, they're far from ditching longstanding healthcare strategies in favor of wearables--citing a lack of validation that data collection is secure and devices will work as expected, according to a NPR report. Steven Steinhubl, digital medicine program director at Scripps Translational Science Institute, recently told mHealth News that greater insight and clinical evidence of potential benefit from wearables is required.

For more information:
- read the Canalys report
- here's the Tractica announcement

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