Technology in India is shrinking with the passage of time. Not in terms of capacity but size. Gone are the days when huge computing devices were the trendsetters. Now, the smaller device you have, the smarter you are! These technology devices first became smaller to fit a desk, then shrunk to sit on lap and now they can fit in our palms or even smaller ones can be easily tagged to our clothes, ornaments and even body parts. Implantation is still at a sci-fi level!
Facts & Figures…
Talking about the numbers, a report from Transparency Market Research says, that the global wearable market will touch $6 billion mark by 2018. This brings the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.8% from 2012 to 2018. India has shown a humongous bend towards wearable technologies and this has happened in no time. Indian start-ups have taken this fragmented industry with a storm and many new technology innovations have been done around the same. From navigation shoes, to track-able ornaments, and from fitness bands to solar backpacks, we have them all.
How it started…
The word “wearable” caught fire soon after the advent of “Google Glass” that broke new grounds and created a room for innovation which was earlier a flight of fantasy. This was followed by the Apple Watch that fuelled the wave of wearables in India. People in India have started getting more and more heath conscious, but at the same time, they want an easy way out. We don’t want to waste our time and money in gyms and fitness coaches, if a device can make this happen, then we are good to go.
Mobile apps, digital solutions and wearables are going to be the “next big thing” in the coming time. Speaking on the same, Tushar Vashisht, Co-Founder & CEO, HealthifyMe said, “Fitness apps and digital solutions are evolving at an unprecedented pace in the recent times. The wearables will get commoditised, like smartphones did and large companies like MicroMax and Xiaomi will be able to off these at mass consumption price points. On the other hand, smartphones and smart-watches will also pack in greater and greater sensors.” (HealthifyMe is a platform that helps people lose weight, become fitter and get in shape. It uses a combination of a smartphone applications, hardware (wearable activity trackers, weight trackers) and human assistance.)
In a country that churns out 1.5 million engineers every year and with such a strong bend towards technology and data analytics, it’s quite obvious that businesses will gravitate towards wearable technology.
·Another reason being same as that of other categories and that is “everything that starts in the West happens here soon”. Silicon Valley accelerated the wave of wearable technologies by funding many such companies in the recent past.
Personal devices will lead to more personal and intimate data, and the mantra was very well caught by entrepreneurs across the world. The kind of data these personal devices are going to provide will become a huge repository for data mining and big data analytics.
Today, the wearable industry is largely divided into 4 categories; Fitness, Healthcare, Industrial and Infotainment. Market is flooded with fitness bands and shoes, smart-watches, healthcare gadgets such as headsets and sensitive device incorporated clothes to measure brainwaves and many more. As per Global Trends and Forecast, mobile health app and solution market will be worth $20.7. Fitness and Healthcare will hold the lion’s share in the coming years. “Fitness and healthcare is going to be one of the biggest industries, otherwise, the cost of living will become so high for everyone if they don’t take care of themselves and people are realising it. Today, 80% of the diseases in the world today is related to lifestyle and that is why these fitness bands are becoming quintessential so that people can keep a track of their daily health graphs”, said Abhishek Sharma, CMO, GOQii. (GOQii offers wearable fitness bands paired with remote personalised coaching.)
Women safety is a big reason to worry in this country. Keeping this in mind, safety devices are being made. It not just tracks your location, but keeps you connected with your family throughout the day. Speaking on the same, Chaitanya Aggarwal, Founder & CEO, Juvalia & You said, “All our jewellery have a SoS device, and what we are planning is to build jewellery which will have all the features of a fitness band and a GPS tracker.” It will not just be jewellery, but a smart necklace, a smart ring or a smart bracelet, he added. (Juvalia & You is a marketplace for imitation jewellery.)
In another survey, it has come up that 80% of Indians responded aggressively on desire to buy wearable tech and this could open a door of huge opportunity in the coming years. The next 3-5 years could easily push India for doing transactions of more than Rs. 200 million market size in this space.
As there are not many predecessors in this sector, these start-ups are learning by their own mistakes. Trial and error methodology has been adapted by these players. Even investors feel the risk in stepping into this space which is at such nascent stage. As per Paras Batra, Co-Founder, Leaf Wearable, “It’s tough if you are an Indian Startup in the wearable space. Unfortunately, our country till date does not possess the manufacturing capabilities required for a wearable start-up to flourish. It’s hard to get funded with hardware and raise initial funds.” (Leaf is a Delhi- based wearable technology company with a product which is a wearable safety device for women safety.)
Awareness is other major concern in this sector as not many international brands have made their presence in the country. Costing has always been one the biggest challenge in terms of consumer acquisition. These wearable devices due to its technology and materialistic expenditure become a little expensive to the end users. Though industry players are trying their best to make it price efficient, but this might take some time.
A foretaste of the future…
This newfound wearable trend is likely to take the market upside down in the coming decade. “We can visualise a day in near future when everything that we wear will have technology inside. From clothes to watches to jewellery/accessories, everything will be smart and equipped with cutting edge technology”, said Batra. With all eyes pointing at wearable industry, the competition here is going to be HUGE! All businesses will have to have a game plan in place to act on the competitive opportunities, while taking note of the challenges too. Wearable is not just a product, but an alcove in the digital market.