Health Tech Insider focuses on the health and medical applications of wearable technology, leaving the broad and largely consumer-based fitness market for others to cover (including our sister publication, Wearable Tech Insider). However, the lines between fitness applications and those aimed at health and medical issues continue to become blurred. The systems that can help you train more effectively to become more physically fit generate data that can be used to detect injury or possible health problems.
As a result, “fitness” devices are driving progress on the health and medical side as well. And according to a new report by Juniper Research, professional sports are playing a major role in the growth of sophisticated wearable technology. “Smart Wearable Devices: Worldwide Consumer & Enterprise Markets 2015-2020” predicts that the wearable device market will triple from about $3.3 billion this year to more than $10 billion in 2020. One of the interesting notes about the report, however, states that “hundreds of thousands of connected garments used by professional sports teams showcase wearable technology’s most advanced capabilities.” This is a largely hidden market, but it makes sense. Not only do team trainers and coaches want to get the best performance possible from each individual player, they also are highly motivated to keep these expensive personnel healthy and productive. When you’re spending a million dollars or so a year on an elite athlete, you can afford to apply some cutting edge technology to protect this investment.
The professional sports proving grounds will rapidly lead to benefits for consumers, and not just fitness buffs. This market for “hundreds of thousands” of smart garments is going to pave the way for large volume production, which will drive down costs and lead to increased functionality. The smart shirts and other gear that help keep pro athletes healthy will soon be available to the rest of us.