According to some experts in the field, the wearable market ultimately will merge with the clothing industry. Our clothes will be “smart” and connected, and will have sensors built in so that we don’t need to bother with separate devices. Is this science fiction, or the science of the near-future?
According to the industry analyst firm n-tech Research, the future is bright for smart textiles. In their “Smart Textile Markets 2016-2023” report, they predict that the market will reach more than $1.8 billion in worldwide sales by 2021, just five years from now. And by 2023, that total will exceed $3 billion. These new fabrics will rely on a variety of technologies, including conductive yarns and threads, shape memory materials, and electrically conductive plastics. They also will have anti-microbial features, will be able to clean themselves, and will even be able to change colors on demand. In addition to consumer applications, smart garments will find uses in medical, fitness, military, and non-clothing applications.
This forecast certainly calls for rapid growth, but to put this in perspective, some sources predict that global television market — a mature technology industry — will hit about 130 billion dollars in sales this year. The worldwide textile and garment industry is already worth about $1 trillion per year. Even with this fast expansion, the smart textile market will still remain a footnote on the balance sheet of the textile and garment industry.