Consumers' growing interest in health and fitness devices is providing a spark for wireless connectivity semiconductors with a growth curve in the double digit range expected for the next five years, according to a new report from IHS Technology.
On the back of wireless technologies being added to wearable devices, shipments this year for wireless semiconductors in health and fitness is projected to reach 61.2 million units, up 11 percent from 55.0 million in 2013. The market won’t slow down either as shipments will climb to 95.78 million units by 2018, as shown in Figure 1.
Health and fitness comprises two groups: sports and fitness and health and wellness. While both are similar, IHS notes both have very different needs but are receptive to wireless technology. Sports and fitness consumers happily disclose the results of their improving fitness levels, but health and wellness consumers are unlikely to disclose any information as it is usually a case of disease management, a private matter.
“Because most health and fitness devices are mobile, wireless connectivity is important,” said Lee Ratliff, principal analyst for connectivity at IHS, in a statement. “And because these wireless mobile devices are in most cases also wearable and thus require a small form-factor, they cannot be power hogs and must support low-energy consumption to have the best chance of succeeding in the consumer market.”
Wireless connectivity in health and fitness serves two purposes: A link to remote sensors because a wired connection is too awkward and for data uploading for analysis and sharing. For example, heart-rate monitors linked to heart-rate chest straps or cycling computers linked to wheel speed sensors.
The growth of health and fitness devices with wireless connectivity is due to the spur of consumers wanting to track their personal data and then share it socially, the increased use of wearable devices, decreasing component costs, an aging demographic concerned about health, the rising use of telehealth and remote healthcare systems.