Apple Watch taps into wearable sensor market as industry triples to £1.9bn worth in 2020


The wearable sensor industry will be worth £1.6bn ($2.5bn) in 2020, having tripled in size since 2014 a new report suggests.

Despite COVID-19 setbacks, the industry is expected to progress back to significant growth from 2021, reaching annual revenue of over £6.2bn ($8bn) per year by 2031.


These are the headline findings from the latest IDTechEx report “Wearable Sensors 2021-2031”, which characterizes the entire industry landscape for wearable sensors.

The report covers over 17 different types of wearable sensor, characterizing the technology, applications and industry landscape for each area.

This ranges from core and familiar technology areas such as motion sensing via IMUs, optical heart rate monitoring and wearable electrodes, though to more unique sensor types such as chemical sensors, 3D imaging & cameras or force/pressure sensors.

The report looks at the sensor’s place within the wearable devices, describing the technology and value chain behind each sensor, as well as the emerging landscape for each.

For example, on the wrist, we have seen optical heart rate metrics be introduced and then expanded to include additional features such as heart rate variability (HRV) and blood oxygen (spO2) metrics.

This has been seen most recently in the Apple Watch Series Six.

Apple wants the gadget to be the ultimate wellness device, with features including blood oxygen monitoring and an always-on altimeter joining measurements for pulse and heart health through electrocardiograms and the usual activity tracking that is now ubiquitous across modern smartwatches.

“Apple Watch Series 6 completely redefines what a watch can do,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief operating officer. “With powerful new features, including a blood oxygen sensor and app, Apple Watch becomes even more indispensable by providing further insight into overall wellbeing.”

The sort of equipment normally reserved for accident & emergency is now squeezed into a wristwatch and tethered smartwatch apps.

ECG results and oxygen saturation data is combined with other information such as height, weight, activity levels and calories burned per day to build up a valuable profile of a person’s health.

The report goes on to explain how there is additional potential for these functions to expand, adding more wavelengths on the optical chips and opening up new potential applications into the future.

Details of this trend from 2015 to 2024 are detailed in the attached chart

However, the overarching message continues to emphasize the importance of sensors within the whole wearable technology sector, providing the key functionality behind core value propositions for many wearable device types.

This is driving a significant revenue growth, both in terms of raw annual revenue from sensors but also in sensor revenue as a percentage of the total revenue from wearables.

The report concluded in described how this is enabled as increasing expansion of sensor capabilities drives increasing importance over time within the sector as a whole.

Read WatchPro’s coverage on Apple Watch here:

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