As the hype fades, companies are increasingly focused on specific and varied product opportunities within this diverse space.
Individual sectors have seen very exciting growth: the first widely commercially available VR platforms have enabled software and application developers to develop increasingly mature options for professionals and consumers alike; new wearable medical devices have generated billions of dollars of new revenue in a short period of time; and traditional wearable electronic devices like fitness trackers and smartwatches have sold many millions of new units each year since at least 2013.
However, each of these spaces has its own unique set of challenges. As commoditization takes hold, most prominently for products like fitness trackers, but also in smartwatches, VR headsets and beyond, growing sales volumes are met with squeezed profit margins as many competitors compete on price. In other spaces, significant technology challenges remain only partially solved. Examples include optimizing device battery life (balancing battery size, weight, form, safety, etc. with device functionality, charging and energy harvesting), in improving data utilization via wearable sensors (from data collection, accuracy, communication, security, algorithms and delivery of actionable conclusions), and right through to specific topics like display/optics, haptics, connectivity and communication.
The IDTechEx Show! is a unique event which captures many of the key technology trends driving innovation in this industry. Whatever your specific interest may be within wearable technology, the 225 speakers, across 8 tracks are arranged to cover all of the relevant technology and market development today. For example, you will hear the latest from leading companies developing AR & VR solutions, from medical device and pharmaceutical companies, from apparel brands and textile companies, from consumer devices and component providers, and from players throughout the value chain for each. All of this is supported by a large exhibition with 200 exhibitors, resulting in an event that previous exhibitors and attendees have called "catalytic" for their immediate commercial growth.
As the market for e-textile products has grown, many of the largest companies in the world have been investigating, investing and developing capabilities in this technology. The e-textiles industry is now entering a crucial transition phase. In the past several small companies have been pioneers in the industry, launching a series of small but successful commercial businesses. This has caused significant market growth in just a few years, but this has now plateaued. The next step requires larger operations with increased maturity throughout the value chain. Many players are now building the infrastructure and networks required for this next step, in which we see larger brands from both the apparel and electronics industries starting to launch commercial products.
This uncertainty creates opportunities; the players with the largest operations in this space are not necessarily profitable today, but foresee huge opportunities as mass-market products emerge. Time is of the essence for companies hoping to be part of this next wave of products.
About the agenda...
The conference at the IDTechEx Show! has been curated by IDTechEx's analyst team to provide the best and latest from relevant topics throughout the industry and value chain. The conference begins with cornerstone presentations from VF Corp and ARM, two very different players at either end of the wearables value chain. Then, the conference splits to offer a series of carefully curated sessions arranged by topic.
For example, those in healthcare can hear dedicated sessions looking at wearable technology in healthcare, with speakers from Galvani Bioelectronics, GSK, Google and Qualcomm Life. They can then hear dedicated sessions for new sensors, textile electronics, 3D printing solutions and emerging materials that are all relevant within healthcare. Similarly, those in AR & VR can hear case studies from key industry verticals seeing growth today, but also dedicated sessions on microdisplays and optics, emerging energy storage and energy harvesting options and new materials and manufacturing trends. The conference aims to provide a full agenda to serve a wide variety of interests within this diverse industry.