The notorious thief Willie Sutton is perhaps best known for his famous (if apocryphal) quote about why he robbed banks: “Because that’s where the money is.” If you look at the overall wearable technology industry, the healthcare and wellness applications are driving market growth, at least for the next few years.
According to forecasts presented by IHS analysts at the SID DisplayWeek 2014 conference in San Diego last week, healthcare and wellness will account for the majority of the global wearable technology market through 2015. Product sales are expected to grow from about US$8 billion this year to more than US$12 billion by 2018. According to IHS, this segment is expected to grow by 11% CAGR from 2012 to 2018.
These predictions make a lot of sense. Many other wearable technology applications are still in the developmental or novelty stage, such as smart watches and consumer head-mounted displays (HMD) such as Google Glass. On the other hand, a growing worldwide interest in controlling the costs of medical care means that there is money available now for devices that can help monitor patient health and motivate them to make better choices to recover from disease or injury. According to IHS, global expenditures for healthcare in general is at US$6.8 trillion; it does not require much of a share of that total to have a major impact on the wearables market. In 2013, 1.8 billion people in the world were managing a chronic condition, and that number is expected to grow to 2.2 billion by 2019.
If wearable technology can help monitor patients and deliver treatments in a more cost-effective manner, it makes sense that more attention will flow to the healthcare and wellness segment of the market.