By Ernst Wittmann, Regional Manager for Southern Africa at ALCATEL
The global wearable computer market is enjoying brisk growth during 2016, with exciting new categories such as wearable computers for children starting to emerge and existing form factors such as smartwatches beginning to mature.
That’s according to Ernst Wittmann, regional manager for Southern Africa at Alcatel, who says that smart wearables are becoming more enticing to the market as their processing power and battery life improves. In addition, specialised form factors evolve and new target markets such as smartwatches for kids are helping to drive new opportunities for the wearables market.
According to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC), total wearable shipment volumes increased 67% to reach nearly 20 million units in 1Q16. IDC attributes the sharp growth to the launch of a number of new fitness trackers and smartwatches; price reductions; and the rise of new categories such as clothing and footwear.
“The kids’ market is one new category in which we see a great deal of potential,” says Wittmann. “For example, many parents would be interested in a smartwatch for kids with basic voice, messaging and tracking functionality. Such a device can help them stay in touch with their kids and track their whereabouts, giving them peace of mind that they’re safe.”
Parents could use an app to track the child in real-time and even set up an alert if the child leaves a safe zone. Though some parents already use smartphones and location-tracking apps, wearables offer a number of advantages that make them a better match for kids. A smartwatch or smartband is always worn, and is more difficult to lose or accidently drop on the floor, says Wittmann. In addition, a wearable might be less distracting at school than a smartphone which houses the latest mobile games.
Wittmann says that in future, we could see fitness and health trackers become as popular in the children’s market as they are for adults. With many parents concerned about their kids’ adopting a sedentary lifestyle of playing games or watching TV, wearables could be used to encourage kids to become more active.
They can give their older children a measure of independence, while still knowing that they can locate them if necessary. “Wearables are simple, robust, increasingly affordable, and fun,” he adds. “They’re a perfect match for kids who love gadgets.”