Smart ‘hearables’ and shoes will be a thing in 5 years – Report

A wave of new categories of wearable technologies, including smart ‘hearables’ and shoes, will become mainstream in the next five years, according to research from CCS Insights.

CCS Insights made the claim in its latest Optimistic Outlook for Wearables report on 20 March. CCS Insight chief of research Ben Wood said he expects the new categories to grow slowly at first, but eventually boom to become common household items by the year 2023.

“Although sales of smart hearables in 2019 are expected to be a modest 3 million units, the wider market for truly wireless in-ear headphones is witnessing explosive growth, as more and more smartphones lack a traditional 3.5 mm audio jack,” he said.

“Although the next wave of innovation is likely to centre on active noise cancellation, we don’t think it will be long before smarter features are added to these devices. We project that over 23 million smart hearables will be sold in 2023, with a good proportion of this growth coming from a future variant of Apple’s already successful wireless AirPods”.

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The hearables category includes traditional true-wireless earphones as well as medical hearing aids, such as the super swish Styletto Connect. Apple unveiled its next generation AirPods 2 true wireless earphones earlier today.

The report said “smart shoes”, such as the Nike Adapt BB, will be a “beachhead” product that will facilitate wider growth in the smart clothing category. The paper said it expects at least 2.5 million pairs of smart shoes to ship in 2019.

Woods said the existing smartwatch market will also exponentially grow in the next five years, thanks to a “halo effect” from the Apple Watch.

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“The Apple Watch has become a halo device for the whole smartwatch category. Other manufacturers are benefiting as people with Android smartphones jump on the smartwatch bandwagon. This is evident in the progress being made by suppliers including Fitbit, Fossil, Garmin, Huami, Huawei and Samsung, which all sold more smartwatches in 2018,” he said.

The combination of factors mean the overall wearable market will be worth $30 billion (roughly £22.8 billion) by 2023 according the CCS Insight.

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