By 2020, smart clothing could be a significant element of the textiles industry. According to Tractica, an American market intelligence firm that focuses on human interaction with technology, the US will surpass 10.2 million units of smart clothing shipments and 3.1 million units of body sensor shipments annually.
Wearables are becoming more and more common in everyday life, with watches and bracelets gaining “smart” components, making them more functional and more connected. Smart clothing dovetails nicely with this trend, adding function to an item that serves as a fashion accessory. Wearables have mostly been driven by the “quantified self” trend that includes measurement, tracking, and analysis of the body, in the process providing tools to help people live healthier lives.
“The ultimate wearable computer is a piece of smart clothing that one can wear as a garment or a body sensor that can track and measure specific vital signs,” says Tractica’s research director Aditya Kaul. “Both of these device categories are designed to seamlessly integrate with users’ daily lives.”
Tractica’s report notes that the market for smart clothing and body sensors is just beginning to take shape, both from end-user and value chain perspectives. The new generation of smart clothing (shirts, sports bras, etc.) provides biometric data on muscle activity, breathing rate, and heart activity zones, all of which are not tracked (or are not tracked well) by current fitness wearable offerings. Tractica anticipates that connected apparel items will gain traction in the mass consumer market, as well.
While heart rate monitors appear to be on the decline, newer devices like baby and pregnancy monitors, headbands, posture monitors, and 3D trackers are beginning to build momentum.
Tractica forecasts that smart clothing shipments will grow from 140,000 units in 2013 to 10.2 million units by 2020, while body sensor shipments will decrease from 3.0 million units in 2013 to 1.2 million by 2017, before rising again to 3.1 million units in 2020.
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