Wearable technology is becoming an integral part of everyday life, but it’s been hit or miss
Alphabet Inc. GOOGL released Google Glass in 2013, which faded into obscurity almost as soon as it was released. Google ultimately lost more than $895 million from the product, and the future of the technology is unknown.
In slight contrast, Meta Platform Inc.’s META Quest series has seen some success, generating billions in revenue and taking a roughly 90% market share in the virtual reality (VR) market. Some investors don’t agree with the company’s heavy spending habits to get there, but the product is doing relatively well.
One of the most successful examples is the current trend of smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch. According to a LendingTree study, 45% of Americans, including 70% of Gen Zers, regularly wear a smartwatch or fitness tracker. Apple Inc. AAPL holds the largest market share in the industry with nearly 20% of Americans owning an Apple Watch. Fitbit and Samsung make up the majority of the rest.
While these mainstream companies immediately come to mind, some more niche enterprises are making a name for themselves. Sensate is a startup making a simple device you can wear around your neck. It vibrates your chest, which signals the vagus nerve to help relieve stress. As wearables like the Apple Watch focus on fitness tracking, Sensate focuses on wellness, stress relief and meditation.
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Sensate seems to be successful in the market. According to data on its Wefunder page, the company experienced 363% revenue growth between 2020 and 2021 and had a revenue run rate of over $10 million as of December. The company is raising on Wefunder, which means anyone can invest in Sensate for a limited time. It’s already raised over $2 million, which further emphasizes its traction.
But some tech appears to be less proven.
For example, smart rings — an estimated $20 million market — are trying to serve as an alternative to traditional fitness trackers. Watches can be bulky, so the rings have much of the same functionality as a fitness tracker, just without a screen. It doesn’t seem to have caught on.
In obscure Google fashion, the company also released a smart trucker jacket in partnership with Levi Strauss & Co. LEVI. The Levi’s Commuter x Jacquard by Google Trucker Jacket has devices in the cuffs that you can use to control music, screen phone calls or get directions.
Much of the space is proving to be a net positive. Wearables like Sensate and smartwatches are actively improving people's health and well-being. The LendingTree study also found that 92% of smartwatch wearers use them for health and fitness reasons, and 88% say their watch has helped them achieve their fitness goals.
Other companies are creating more accessible and functional health trackers that are designed to monitor heart irregularities, heart rate, oxygen, blood sugar levels and more.
Not only are these wearables helping people improve their lives, but they’re also likely saving them.
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