A new report from the market research firm Tractica covers “Smart Clothing and Body Sensors.” As with most early-stage markets, we see the familiar “hockey stick” forecasts that start small and rise rapidly (often with no end to growth in sight). That’s the message from Tractica about smart clothing, as they expect the unit shipments to grow from about 140,000 units in 2013 to 10.2 million by 2020. This growth apparently will not be driven mainly by plunging prices, either; the company predicts annual revenues for smart clothing will soar from $17.2 million in 2013 to $603 million in 2020.
Tractica analysts report that the bulk of the growth will come from fitness applications, as wearable fitness devices are incorporated directly into garments. The clothing could be more convenient and less intrusive than the standalone wearable devices.
It is worth pointing out that Tractica does not expect healthcare applications for smart clothing to become a significant factor in this forecast period, primarily because they have not seen many examples of the systems being tested in trials. I believe that they may be underestimating this segment, as we have new forces affecting demand. The Affordable Care Act creates strong incentives for hospitals to reduce patient readmission for the same complaint, and this will accelerate the demand for better remote monitoring of patients in their homes after discharge. Clothing that wirelessly monitors and reports vital signs and other biometric data will be highly effective in reducing readmission costs, and this financial incentive is likely to help this segment of the market grow faster than forecast.