Smart assistants on wearables tipped for big things in latest future-gazing report

New IDC forecast data thinks more people are going to be talking to their tech
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The rise of smart assistant-packing wearables is something to keep an eye on, according to the latest wearables forecast from research firm IDC.

Siri is already on the Apple Watch, Google Assistant is on Wear OS smartwatches, and Amazon's Alexa has also made its way to wrists and ears. IDC recognises that while it's still very early days in terms of the integration of these assistants, wrist-worn and ear-worn wearables packing those smarts could be a surprising trend.

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"Though still in its infancy, the integration of these assistants with wearables opens up new use cases, from allowing these devices to tie into the smart home to making the devices more proactive at urging users to live healthier or more productive lives," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. These Trackers provide data and insight into the current state of the wearables market including who's dominating the space and what could be next on the horizon for the industry.

IDC also sees healthcare and the adoption of wearables in the enterprise space to be big drivers for the wearables market. That doesn't come as a great surprise as the likes of Apple, Fitbit and Garmin have already been making moves here.

According to its Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker (which includes wireless headphones with smart assistants), it forecasts that the wearable market will grow by 15.3% over the previous year to 198.5 million units by the end of the 2019. By 2023, it predicts that will rise to 279 million units. The chief drivers for this growth will be watches, ear-worn devices, wrist bands and the adoption of wearables in the healthcare space.

So smartwatches will continue to lead the way with the Apple Watch spearheading that charge. IDC suggest smartwatches running WatchOS will account for 27.5% of all watches in 2023. Hearables are second on the list to surge, while wristbands will actually slow down. Interestingly, IDC believes smart clothing will show good growth over the next few years although it does class connected shoes as the item that will fuel that growth.

IDC has also dished out data on the wearables market in China, which revealed that in the last quarter of 2018, Xiaomi accounted for one in four devices sold. Huawei is also on the up shifting 4.3 million wearables in just three months. Xiaomi, Huawei, Apple and continue to dominate proceedings in China while wearables for kids, which enable parents to monitor the location of their little ones, continue to be a big driver for wearable sales.

Smart assistants on wearables tipped for big things in latest future-gazing report

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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