L2’s 2014 Intelligence Report: Wearables predicts that wearable device purchases will grow exponentially in the next few years to $18 billion in shipments by 2018, Even though just 2% of U.S. consumers currently own wearable devices. As evidence of the upcoming change, wearable devices are present in a number of 2014 gift guides in non-tech publications. Elle’s gift guide promotes fitness trackers that look like jewelry (Misfit Shine, Moov Tracker, Tory Burch Fitbit) as well as a sports bra that collects detailed data after every workout. And Time Out featured the Opening Ceremony x Intel MICA bracelet sold at Barneys. Fitness trackers made the bulk of list as expected, but smart clothing (likes this Bluetooth-fitted Zegna jacket) made appearances as well.
Why now? The technology know-how to build wearable devices has existed for years, but there were other barriers to mass adoption. More than 70% early adopters wanted more affordable items, 62% wanted variety beyond the wristband, and 53% wanted devices that looked like jewelry. The gift guide items have a range of prices, variety, and Barneys-approved aesthetics. The 2014 holiday season could possibly be a tipping point for wearables.