Tough times ahead for smart wristbands, says Gartner
Hyped as the “year of wearable technology”, 2014 has proven so far to be a disappointment in terms of mass-market adoption of smart wristbands. Instead, two of the leading brands have withdrawn products and other major vendors have undergone long delays in launching – or introduced new devices with barely a whimper.
The latest reports predict that this will get even worse.
In its latest “Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies”, published this week, research firm Gartner places “wearable user interfaces” as just coming off the “peak of inflated expectation” (this is Gartner speak for the hype crescendo), ready to slide into the “trough of disillusionment” (the backlash is coming).
Perhaps more alarmingly, Gartner predicts that wearables won’t become truly mainstream for at least five years.
Gartner’s research, which is behind a paywall, states that it believes you don’t need more than the fingers on one hand to count the percentage of market penetration among target audiences – if you have $1999 to spare, you can read the whole report at Gartner.com.
The actual 2014 graphic is not yet publicly available, but Gartner did press release the 2013 report. Putting the two side-by-side shows that the dot for wearables has hardly moved in the last 12 months, which means the hype has remained constant over the past year, perhaps for longer than Gartner analysts expected (although you won’t hear them admit that).
Nevertheless, there is still hope for some smartband makers. In a separate report, “Cool Vendors in Wearable Electronics”, Gartner includes wristband maker Misfit Wearables and smartwatch pioneer Pebble alongside Carre Technologies, a company making wearable sensors, Recon Instruments, “the World leader in Heads-up Display (HUD) technology for sports and outdoor environments” and Rest Devices, makers of the “smart baby monitor” Mimo.
Misfit is notably widening its portfolio with the introduction of the Beddit Sleep Monitor. This is a wristband designed to be worn in bed, alongside a smart alarm, and promises rich stats and an intelligent alarm. With our interest in sleep tracking, we’re keen to learn more.