Wearable technology is about to evolve. The explosion of wearable devices was originally led by fitness bands. However, a combination of new vendors, new devices, and greater end-user awareness will now drive the worldwide wearables market higher in 2015.
Vendors will ship a total of 45.7 million units in 2015, up a strong 133.4 percent from the 19.6 million units shipped in 2014, According to the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).
By 2019, total shipment volumes are forecast to reach 126.1 million units, resulting in a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.1 percent.
Propelling the market higher in 2015 is an increased focus on smart wearables, or those devices capable of running third-party applications. These include devices like the Apple Watch, the Motorola Moto 360, and the Samsung Gear watches.
The total volume of smart wearables will reach 25.7 million units in 2015 -- that's up by 510.9 percent from the 4.2 million units shipped in 2014.
Basic wearables, or those devices that do not run third party software apps, will grow from 15.4 million units in 2014 to 20.0 million units in 2015, resulting in 30 percent year-over-year growth.
"Smart wearables are about to take a major step forward with the launch of the Apple Watch this year," said Ramon Llamas, research manager at IDC. "The Apple Watch raises the profile of wearables in general and there are many vendors that are eager to share the spotlight. Basic wearables, meanwhile, will not disappear."
IDC believes that many segments of the market seek out very basic single-use wearable devices. Wrist-worn wearables, including bands, bracelets, and watches, will account for more than 80 percent of all wearable device shipments throughout the forecast.
Most vendors have concentrated their efforts on these products, and IDC expects this trend to continue. Behind wrist-worn products are modular wearable devices, or those devices that can be worn on any part of the body with a clip or a strap.
Modular devices are traditionally much simpler to produce than other wearable devices and function well as use-specific devices. Clothing is the third category and is expected to grow the fastest as companies embed items like shirts, socks, hats, and other products with computing power.
Eyewear is a smaller category, which IDC expects to first catch on among enterprise users within select vertical markets. Finally, earwear will comprise a small part of the overall market as earphones expand from audio to include health and fitness features.