Smart clothing and hearable shipments expected to boom by 2022, says report

But healthcare wearables may take longer than expected to roll out
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New research has predicted that smart clothing and hearable shipments will incline rapidly by 2022, leading to a growth of more than 550%.

The report, from Juniper Research, forecasts that fitness wearables integrated into the likes of clothing and ear-based wearables will rise from the 4.5 million shipped in 2018 to almost 30 million in five years time.

Essential reading: The future of smart running clothes

However, the analyst firm doesn't believe the same kind of growth in shipments will be seen across the wearable spectrum, with the activity tracker market only set to grow by 20% in the same time span. Instead, Juniper Reasearch cites that 'session-specific' wearables, such as dedicated gym trackers that leave behind the likes of notifications and other standard smartwatch functions, will begin to become more prevalent.

And, according to Juniper, that's bad news for the leaders of the fitness tracker market, which includes the likes of Fitbit and Huami. That pair, in particular, will account for just 28% of the market in half a decade, down from their 40% share last year.

Serious health wearables

Interestingly, the research also points to the near future of healthcare wearables. But despite the area showing promise, Juniper notes that regulations and the current dearth of specialised hardware available, not to mention the time it takes for fitness devices to be adapted for healthcare purposes, mean an advanced rollout may take longer than expected.

"Healthcare usage has long been the goal of many wearables manufacturers. However, more research needs to be done on activity tracking in order to make typical wearables data clinically meaningful to healthcare professionals," says research author James Moar.

This report, of course, isn't the only piece of research attempting to predict the future of the wearable market. And while it's always wise to take these kind of forecasts with a pinch of salt, it does sit in line with other reports we've seen predicting the state of the smart clothing and hearable scene. Time will tell whether the estimates turn out to be the money.

Speaking of future gazing, we've been doing plenty of that ourselves here at Wareable with our Future of Running Week. We've explored what's next for smart clothing, the future of smart shoes, building the perfect running watch and pick out the running startups to keep an eye on.

Smart clothing and hearable shipments expected to boom by 2022, says report

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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