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Smart clothing expected to become $1 billion industry by 2020

A new report from Juniper Research sees the wearable sector gradually shifting from smartwatches and fitness trackers to smart clothing. The market research outfit expects smart clothing to become a $1 billion industry in the next two years.

According to the report Smart Wearables: Competitor Strategies, Opportunities & Forecasts 2018-2022, the size of the overall wearable market will balloon to 350 million devices shipped by 2020. Fitness trackers and smartwatches will make up around 190 million of that figure.

Essential reading: Moving away from the wrist, the best smart clothing

While this represents a healthy increase from 137 million, growth will be hampered as the lifecycle of devices lengthens and fewer new features and a software focus delay repeat purchases. To make up for lower revenue, companies will focus more on software and data services. The largest market for these subscription-based services will be healthcare, with revenue expected to top $2.5 billion by 2022.

“A key challenge for wearables is to provide a concrete benefit or unique data. All our top growth segments either provide in-depth data from specialised form factors, or benefits that do not involve data at all,” research author James Moar said.

Juniper expects connected clothing to accelerate in the coming years, albeit from a lower base. This sector will ship over 7 million by 2020, before reaching nearly 30 million in 2022. The increase will be a result in developments of conductive fabric, as well as growth in sportswear from companies such as Sensoria, Lumo and Under Armour.

This makes perfect sense. After all, sensors embedded into your everyday wear are in a perfect position to understand the minute workings of your body. Best of all, these are items you would have worn anyway, only smarter.

According to the study, the fastest growing wearable sectors, in terms of shipments, over the next 2 years will be: connected clothing (102% CAGR); smart glasses (98%); smart jewellery (55%); hearables (31%); smartwatches (31%).

This follows another study from Juniper last month which outlined similar lofty expectations for intelligent clothing. The report cited integration of wearable device data with medical databases as the key battleground for the market going forward.

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