For marketers, wearable technology holds the potential of getting as close to their customers as they could ever imagine.
However, though the market for wearable tech appears to be following a similar road to riches as smartphones and tablets, it is by no means mainstream--yet. Here are some important facts to know about the very much emerging wearable tech market.
1. Today, wearable technology is a $700 million industry in the form of sports and activity trackers.
2. First adopters of Google Glass are doing a lot of Web browsing. And although Glass makes up a small part of current total Web traffic, browsing has increased 135 percent in the past year, which is higher than the growth seen in the mobile (38 percent) and tablet (39 percent) categories.
3. Wearable technology provides substantial benefits for job satisfaction and productivity. Employees who are armed with wearable devices in the workplace increase their productivity by 8.5 percent and their job satisfaction by 3.5 percent.
4. Google Glass adoption will climb sharply to 21 million units sold in annual sales by year-end 2018. At $500 per unit, that's a $10.5 billion annual market opportunity.
5. The market for wearable technology is growing at a fast rate. Smart glasses, smart watches, and fitness bands will reach about $3 billion for 2014. New categories will represent about $2 billion in sales, based on 4 million units.
6. In 2013, Fitbits, Jawbone UPs, and Nike FuelBands accounted for 97 percent of all smartphone-enabled activity trackers sold at brick-and-mortar stores or through big e-commerce sites
7. For the 52-week period beginning in early January 2013 and ending in early January 2014, Fitbit’s devices accounted for 68 percent of devices sold; Jawbone UP sales accounted for 19 percent of all devices sold; and Nike FuelBand sales made up 10 percent of sales. All other activity tracking devices together accounted for the remaining 3 percent of sales.
8. A hefty 52 percent of people recently polled said they're aware of wearable technology devices. And among those, a third said they're likely to buy one.
9. The smartwatch proved to be the most well-known type of wearable gadget, with 36 percent of people familiar with them. But given the limited number of such devices on the market, only 23 percent said they'd be likely to buy one. Making and receiving phone calls was cited as the top reason for getting a smartwatch, followed by listening to music and tracking fitness.
10. One in six (15 percent) consumers currently use wearable tech, such as smartwatches and fitness bands, in their daily lives.
11. Most wearables owners are young, with 48 percent between 18 and 34 years old. Men and women are equally likely to sport wearable tech. Twenty-nine percent of wearables owners make over $100,000 per year.
12. Fifty-five percent of consumers think wearable technology is too expensive to purchase, while 24 percent of consumers believe they already have too many devices.
13. Worldwide spending on wearable technology will reach $1.4 billion by 2016.
14. Total wearable device shipment volumes will reach 19 million units in 2014. That figure will grow to 111.9 million in 2018.
15. When asked what personal devices they cannot live without, wearable technology devices, such as smartwatches (40 percent) and Google Glass (39 percent), ranked higher than Kindles (27 percent), iPods/MP3 players (21 percent), and video game consoles (17 percent). The combination of functionality, fashion, and "cool factor" are landing wearable tech on mainstream consumer shopping lists.