In a recent IDC report,the wearable market has seen Fitbit and Apple Watch take the first two positions, respectively, followed by top vendors Chinese Xiaomi, Garmin and BBK. About 80 million wearable devices were shipped around the world last year, and in 2016, this figure will rise 44.4 percent to 111.1 million units. Smartwatches will drive much of this increase, according to the research firm.

wearable market share in 2015

By 2019, the total shipments of wearables will hit 214.6 million units, reflecting a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28 percent. While today’s wearables landscape is limited to basic form factors, we expect to see more wearable tech trends to develop in 2016.

Smart Clothing

Smart clothing is becoming a hot product that consumers will be looking for on store shelves in 2016. Smart watches and activity trackers are becoming popular, and smart clothing is starting to gain traction.

Levi's and Google teamed up in May 2015 to develop a way to move the physical interface of your device onto your clothes, and the fruits of the partnership should be seen in 2016. Some well-known brands have already announced "smart clothing" for consumers such as Ralph Laurent.

Polo tech shirt

Smart clothing for athletes will be another fruitful trend. Tech company Jabil’s Peak+ programme is promising to become a game changer in smart sports clothing in 2016. Peak+’s goal is to create the standard of how to build sensors into t-shirts and sports bras, and record biometric data without sacrificing user’s comfort.

During CES 2016 OMsignal launched a biometric "smart" bra that tracks heart rate, breathing rate, and calories burned, among other metrics. The data is recorded through a sensor that snaps into the lower band of the sports bra; and is transferred to OmSignal's mobile app. The smart bra has as a feature for people who love running workouts, called OmRun. It will measure distance, pace, breathing rhythm, and fatigue levels when users are running.

omsmart bra at CES 2016

Implanted and Invisible

Wearables technology will be transitioning to integration and implantation with and in the human body. Chaotic Moon introduced tech tattoos and we expect more similar technologies will be introduced in 2016.  The solution introduced by Chaotic Moon Studios is a teched up tattoo capable of acting as an advanced fitness tracker.

emerge interactive electronic tatoo

Last year, Emerge Interactive introduced the first electronic ink tattoo that allows users to change the tattoo dynamically from the mobile phone. Commercialization of this product could be after 2016.

Other potential applications include nanosensorsplaced inside yourblood that periodically do surveillance. The sensors also contain wireless capabilities to transfer data to a smartphone. Scripps Health is currently developing nanosensors that can travel the bloodstream and send messages to a smartphone, alerting the user and doctors of signs of infection or other cardiovascular issues.

Security for Wearable Devices

Sensitive information is stored on wearable devices and this creates a new security risk. Privacy and safety issues might arise if the owner is identified and a stolen electronic identity could easily be used. The current technology challenge is that the wearable devices are quite small, making them more difficult to equip with a strong security capability to protect data.

Even though breaking into a wearable device or drone does not necessarily provide an immediate value for a hacker, it can lead to a connection to a smartphone and user’s data in the Internet cloud, notes Bruce Snell, cyber-security and privacy director for Intel Security.

Wearables will likely follow a similar adoption cycle as smartphones and tablets, which were quickly embraced by consumers and enterprises. They'll certainly become tempting targets to malware creators and data thieves. According to a new report from Intel’s McAfee Labs, wearables are one of the top 5 risks to watch for in cybersecurity in 2016.

wearable security - attack surfaces

Another IT risk study by ISACA pointed out that nearly three-quarters of IT professional respondents believe the risk of hackers targeting organizations via IoT devices, such as activity trackers, is medium.

More Connected and Sophisticated Wearable Apps

2016 could be the year for wearable app developers. The wearable apps will become more advanced and connected.

Activity tracker apps will integrate diet and different fitness categories. Wearable technology could increasingly become part of the mobility strategy of enterprise applications. Salesforce introduced the Salesforce Wear Developer Pack as a collection of open-source apps that enable software developers to quickly design and build wearable apps that connect to their Salesforce1 platform.

Shipping-logistics company DHL reported that productivity increased by 25 percent when it put smart glasses on its shipping handlers in a pilot program last year.

Wearable glasses will likely be the first wearable technology to be adopted in the work environment, predicts Juniper. But do not forget that paramedics, surgeons and other medical professionals who work in a sterile environment could also benefit from a wearable device attached to their arms, allowing hands-free communication.

Virtual Reality

While virtual reality (VR) has received a lot of buzz in recent years, 2016 is the year that VR is expected to gain momentum in healthcare applications and gaming. At CES 2016, Samsung's secretive Creative Labs (C-Lab) presented three new wearable prototypes – a hand motion controller for its Gear VR headset, a health tracking smart belt and a smartwatch strap that improves call and sound quality.

Gesture control is not new but it will start to get good enough for real applications. Forget the TV magic remotes, it's wearables that are embedding to make navigating your smartwatch, smartphone and everything else a whole lot more intuitive. Wearable VR is going to make gesture control natural and immersive. The time of touchscreens is going to end soon. It's all about gestures.

Samsung’s rink is the motion controller for the Gear VR that appears to slip over one of your hands. Samsung describes rink as an "advanced hand-motion controller for mobile VR devices" that will integrate in a nuanced way to interact with objects in a virtual world.

Samsung wearable gear

Sony’s gamers are hoping for some more new wearable virtual reality products out of Sony after it reveals a series of super exciting new PlayStation VR games

Sony wearable virtual riality

(c) IMT Solutions