Wearable fitness device use will triple through 2018 but will be overtaken by smart watches after that according to a new report by Juniper Research Image by Thinkstock

Wearable fitness device use will triple through 2018 but will be overtaken by smart watches after that, according to a new report by Juniper Research. Image by Thinkstock.

Fitness Devices to Dominate the Wearables Market until 2018

The use of wearables will almost triple by 2018, led by fitness devices. However, smart watches are expected to overtake wearable fitness devices after 2018, according to a new report.

The use of wearables will almost triple by 2018, rising from 19 million today to 70 million devices in use by 2018, according to a report by Juniper Research.

Fitness devices will dominate the wearables segment, but smart watches are expected to overtake the wearable fitness devices after 2018 partly because more aesthetically minded consumers find the smart watches' focus on design more appealing than the fitness devices' focus on function, states the report, "Smart Health and Fitness Wearables: Device Strategies, Trends and Forecasts 2014-2019."

The diversity of fitness wearables will bring about two classes of fitness devices. Basic trackers, such as the $13 Xiaomi MiBand, will sell on their value, while more complex devices, such as the FitBit Surge, Microsoft Band and Samsung Gear Fit, will offer additional features beyond fitness, such as notifications and music control.

Wearable fitness devices that will continue to compete with smart watches are the more complex devices that offer similar notification functions, according to Juniper Research, which provides research and analytical services to the global high-tech communications sector, providing consultancy, analyst reports and industry commentary.

The report anticipates that sales of healthcare-focused wearable devices will increase from wearable electrocardiograms to glucose monitors and insulin pumps. Although these monitors already are used in areas where self-medication is the norm, capabilities will expand to allow monitoring by health care professionals in other areas if questions around regulation are answered.

The report predicts that Fitbit will remain the leading player for fitness tracking, although the company's decision not to integrate with Apple Health may harm its market share in the short term. With engagement a key pain point for fitness wearables, start-up GOQii is pioneering a new service-based business model, offering contact with fitness coaches alongside its device.

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