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Big future for wearable devices: expert

TAIPEI--The global market for wearable devices will grow substantially over the next four years, as technology development is now focused on such devices, a local analyst said.

"With the growth of the personal computer and smartphone sectors slowing down, the information and communications technology industry is looking for the next driver, and that is wearable devices," said Jessica Hsu, a senior industry analyst at the Taipei-based Institute for Information Industry's Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute.

Nearly 13 million wearable devices were shipped worldwide in 2013 and that figure is expected to pick up significantly, she said at a forum on the sidelines of the annual COMPUTEX Taipei trade show.

This year, global wearable device shipments will total 34.9 million units, with 76.7 percent being bracelets and watches, Hsu predicted.

The sector's growth will continue over the next few years at a compound annual rate of 62.7 percent to reach about 145.2 million units in 2018, according to the analyst.

Wearable devices will be integrated into the trend of the "Internet of Things," Hsu said, adding that developers should now focus more on product differentiation and usability.

In April, market researcher International Data Corp. made a similar prediction, saying that global shipments of wearable computing devices are expected to triple in 2014 to over 19 million units.

The growth will continue over the next few years at a compound annual rate of 78.4 percent to reach about 112 million units in 2018, the company said in a research report dated April 10.

Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) also said there was great potential in this market, especially for devices with healthcare functions and services, as Taiwan is becoming an aging society.

Global revenues from healthcare wearable devices totaled US$860 million in 2013 and are expected to rise over the next four years at a compound annual rate of 28.1 percent to about US$3 billion in 2018, the ITRI said in a report.

Asia will be a frontrunner, with an even higher compound annual growth rate of 33.9 percent, the institute said, citing a February forecast by BCC Research.

Such devices need to be small, light, and low in energy consumption, the ITRI said, suggesting that developers use the data collected to provide better services and analyses so as to attract buying interest.

COMPUTEX Taipei is being held at Nangang Exhibition Hall, Taipei International Convention Center and Taipei World Trade Center Exhibition Halls 1 and 3 from June 3 7.

The five-day computer show, the second-biggest in the world, features 1,710 exhibitors and is expected to draw over 130,000 visitors, including 38,000 international buyers, according to the organizers.

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