The well-respected Juniper Research is out with its latest wearables report — this one estimating that fitness trackers will continue to be the largest category in wearables until people figure out a use case for smart watches. That will take, Juniper estimates, a couple of years.
But it’s in the fine print where Juniper’s findings get interesting. In a white paper accompanying the report, Future Health & Fitness Wearables: Business Models, Forecasts & Vendor Share 2016-2020, researcher James Moar points out that fitness trackers themselves are hardly standing still. The key development is what he calls “Quantified Others” — the use of tracker data by interested third parties to monitor or give feedback on the activity.
That “other” could be a care professional, a friend, an employer, a health insurance company, or a coach. In some cases, such as automated updating to a patient record, it may require a direct and secure wireless connection than a smartphone may be able to provide.
As far as smartwatches, Juniper expects 130 million users worldwide by 2019, compared to 110 tracker wearers, although the company acknowledges that the line between the two is becoming increasingly blurred.