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Wearables face hype shake-up

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An IDTechEx report has shown that the wearable technology sector is currently worth over $30bn, and despite the total market growing to over $150bn by 2026, it forecasts shake-ups in several prominent sectors.

With hype around some of the core wearable technology sectors beginning to wane, IDTechEx have released their latest analysis of this diverse and growing industry in their brand new report Wearable Technology 2016-2026. The report finds the market to be worth over $30bn in 2016, with over $11bn of that coming from newly popular products including smartwatches and fitness trackers. However, despite the total market growing to over $150bn by 2026, IDTechEx forecast shake-ups in several prominent sectors, with commoditization hitting hard, and product form factors changing rapidly.

Global wearable technology forecast summary, including 39 forecast lines covering all prominent products today (e.g. smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart eyewear, smart clothing, medical devices and more), but also to many incumbent products (e.g. headphones, hearing aids, basic electronic watches and more). Source: IDTechEx Research report Wearable Technology 2016-2026

Global wearable technology forecast summary, including 39 forecast lines covering all prominent products today (e.g. smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart eyewear, smart clothing, medical devices and more), but also to many incumbent products (e.g. headphones, hearing aids, basic electronic watches and more). Source: IDTechEx Research report Wearable Technology 2016-2026

The IDTechEx report covers these trends in granular detail, including 39 separate forecast lines by product type and 60 formal company profiles and interviews compiled from primary research by IDTechEx’s expert analysts. The report also covers all of the industry megatrends that are driving innovation, demand and development, as well as describing application sectors including fitness & wellness, elite sportswear, healthcare & medical, infotainment, commercial, industrial, military, and others. For each, general sector-wide themes are described, but also detailed case studies are used to explain value propositions, end user needs and unmet problems that are driving the market forward.

Fuelled by a frenzy of hype, funding and global interest, wearable technology was catapulted to the top of the agenda for companies spanning the entire value chain and world. This investment manifested in hundreds of new products and extensive tailored R&D investigating relevant technology areas. However, the fickle nature of hype is beginning to show, and many companies are now progressing beyond discussing “wearables” to focus on the detailed and varied sub-sectors. Within this report, we include sections on each key of these key product areas, including fitness trackers, smartwatches, smart clothing, smart eyewear (including AR and VR), smart skin patches, headphones and more. For each, the key trends are discussed, the key players characterised, and qualified market forecasts provided.

IDTechEx’s expert analyst team has been covering this topic for over three years, including device level studies, but also looking to the component level at displays, sensors, batteries & power solutions, microcontrollers, e-textiles and haptics. This understanding of the entire value chain is used to qualify the market forecasts, and particularly when looking at the future of personal communication devices.

In a unique aspect of this report, IDTechEx outlines a long term case for standalone wearable communication devices as a future evolution of the smartphone. Today, most smartwatches and many fitness trackers still rely, at least partially, on a connection to a smartphone hub. The ubiquity of the smartphone as a central platform has been a key enabler for growth in wearables so far, but all of the largest manufacturers now look to a future, where the hub itself may become wearable. In the report, the authors describes the growth central, personal hub providing connectivity to peripheral devices, whether they be displays, sensor platforms or otherwise. With many smartwatches already beginning to move in this direction, we extend this case further providing a 10 year forecast for growth of devices of this type.

This is the most thorough and comprehensive report covering the entire wearable technology ecosystem. It provides detailed description of all of the hardware challenges and opportunities across the varied device types, and draws from IDTechEx’s case study database of around 1000 companies in the wearable technology value chain. The report lists around 500 companies actively making products (both hardware and software) to support this report. For full details of Wearable Technology 2016-2026, including the table of contents, please see www.IDTechEx.com/wearable.

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IoT sensors are anything from doctor to canary in mines

Industrial IoT is changing the shape of the mining industry and the intelligence of the devices that drive it

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has become many things in the mining industry. A canary that uses sensors to monitor underground air quality, a medic that monitors healthcare, a security guard that’s constantly on guard, and underground mobile vehicle control. It has evolved from the simple connectivity of essential sensors to devices into an ecosystem of indispensable tools and solutions that redefine how mining manages people, productivity and compliance. According to Karien Bornheim, CEO of Footprint Africa Business Solutions (FABS), IoT offers an integrated business solution that can deliver long-term, strategic benefits to the mining industry.

“To fully harness the business potential of IoT, the mining sector has to understand precisely how it can add value,” she adds. “IoT needs to be implemented across the entire value chain in order to deliver fully optimised, relevant and turnkey operational solutions. It doesn’t matter how large the project is, or how complex, what matters is that it is done in line with business strategy and with a clear focus.”

Over the past few years, mining organisations have deployed emerging technologies to help bolster flagging profits, manage increasingly weighty compliance requirements, and reduce overheads. These technologies are finding a foothold in an industry that faces far more complexities around employee wellbeing and safety than many others, and that juggles numerous moving parts to achieve output and performance on a par with competitive standards. Already, these technologies have allowed mines to fundamentally change worker safety protocols and improve working conditions. They have also provided mining companies with the ability to embed solutions into legacy platforms, allowing for sensors and IoT to pull them into a connected net that delivers results.

“The key to achieving results with any IoT or technology project is to partner with service providers, not just shove solutions into identified gaps,” says Bornheim. “You need to start in the conceptual stage and move through the pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility stages before you start the implementation. Work with trained and qualified chemical, metallurgical, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and structural engineers that form a team led by a qualified engineering lead with experience in project management. This is the only way to ensure that every aspect of the project is aligned with the industry and its highly demanding specifications.”

Mining not only has complexities in compliance and health and safety, but the market has become saturated, difficult and mercurial. For organisations to thrive, they must find new revenue streams and innovate the ways in which they do business. This is where the data delivered by IoT sensors and devices can really transform the bottom line. If translated, analysed and used correctly, the data can provide insights that allow for the executive to make informed decisions about sites, investment and potential.


“The cross-pollination of different data sets from across different sites can help shift dynamics in plant operation and maintenance, in the execution of specific tasks, and so much more,” says Bornheim. “In addition, with sensors and connected devices and systems, mining operations can be managed intelligently to ensure the best results from equipment and people.”

The connection of the physical world to the digital is not new. Many of the applications currently being used or presented to the mining industry are not new either. What’s new is how these solutions are being implemented and the ways in which they are defined. It’s more than sticking on sensors. It’s using these sensors to streamline business across buildings, roads, vehicles, equipment, and sites. These sensors and the ways in which they are used or where they are installed can be customised to suit specific business requirements.

“With qualified electronic engineers and software experts, you can design a vast array of solutions to meet the real needs of your business,” says Bornheim. “Our engineers can programme, create, migrate and integrate embedded IoT solutions for microcontrollers, sensors, and processors. They can also develop intuitive dashboards and human-machine interfaces for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to manage the input and output of a wide range of functionalities.”

The benefits of IoT lie in its ubiquity. It can be used in tandem with artificial intelligence or machine learning systems to enhance analytics, improve the automation of basic processes and monitor systems and equipment for faults. It can be used alongside M2M applications to enhance the results and the outcomes of the systems and their roles. And it can be used to improve collaboration and communication between man, machine and mine.

“You can use IoT platforms to visualise mission-critical data for device monitoring, remote control, alerts, security management, health and safety and healthcare,” concludes Bornheim. “The sky is genuinely the limit, especially now that the cost of sensors has come down and the intelligence of solutions and applications has gone up. From real-time insights to hands-on security and safety alerts to data that changes business direction and focus, IoT brings a myriad of benefits to the table.”

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Oracle leads in clash of
e-commerce titans

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Three e-commerce platforms have been awarded “gold medals” for leading the way in customer experience. SoftwareReviews, a division of Info-Tech Research Group, named Oracle Commerce Cloud the leader in its 2020 eCommerce Data Quadrant Awards, followed by Shopify Plus and IBM Digital Commerce. The awards are based on user reviews. 
The three vendors received the following citations:

  • Oracle Commerce Cloud ranked highest among software users, earning the number-one spot in many of the product feature section areas, shining brightest in reporting and analytics, predictive recommendations, order management, and integrated search. 
  • Shopify Plus performed consistently well according to users, taking the number-one spot for catalogue management, shopping cart management and ease of customisation.
  • IBM Digital Commerce did exceptionally well in business value created, quality of features, and vendor support.

The SoftwareReviews Data Quadrant differentiates itself with insightful survey questions, backed by 22 years of research in IT. The study involves gathering intelligence on user satisfaction with both product features and experience with the vendor. When distilled, the customer’s experience is shaped by both the software interface and relationship with the vendor. Evaluating enterprise software along these two dimensions provides a comprehensive understanding of the product in its entirety and helps identify vendors that can deliver on both for the complete software experience.

“Our recent Data Quadrant in e-commerce solutions provides a compelling snapshot of the most popular enterprise-ready players, and can help you make an informed, data-driven selection of an e-commerce platform that will exceed your expectations,” says Ben Dickie, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. 

“Having a dedicated e-commerce platform is where the rubber hits the road in transacting with your customers through digital channels. These platforms provide an indispensable array of features, from product catalog and cart management to payment processing to detailed transaction analytics.”

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