It’s inevitable that the wearable technology we see now, with its various biometric sensors, will start to move from our wrists to different parts of our body. The sensors will start showing up in different parts of our clothing.
One research firm believes this change will happen before the end of the decade. A new report from Tractica says we consumers will be buying more than 10 million pieces of smart clothing yearly by 2020.
There’s nothing very new about biosensing clothing, but this clothing has for the most part been confined to athletic appeal. Sports enthusiasts are using sensor-infused shirts, shorts, sports bras, and socks that provide biometric data on muscle activity, breathing rate, and heart activity zones — all data that is not currently tracked by fitness bands or smart watches. Over the next several years, smart clothing will begin to look less like athletic gear and more like street gear.
It wasn’t too long ago that sales of smart clothing were at a trickle. Tractica said just 140,000 of the garments moved in 2013, almost all of them athletic gear.
“The ultimate wearable computer is a piece of smart clothing that one can wear as a garment or a body sensor that can track and measure specific vital signs,” said Tractica Research director Aditya Kaul in a statement. “Both of these device categories are designed to seamlessly integrate with users’ daily lives.”
While body sensor shipments will decrease from 3 million units in 2013 to 1.2 million by 2017, Tractica says, they will rise again to 3.1 million units in 2020. The reason for the downward dip at 2017, Tractica says, is because heart rate monitors will decline in unit volume before newer devices like baby and pregnancy monitors, headbands, posture monitors, and 3D trackers begin to build momentum.