Why Hearables Could Be the Next Big Thing in Wearable Tech
Forget smartwatches and the Google Glass — 2015 may be the year of the ear for wearable technology.
"There's some interesting information you can capture through the ear. We've been looking at things like wrist wearables, but the ear can capture things like oxygen levels, electrocardiograms, and body temperature," Craig Stires, associate vice president for big data, analytics and software at IDC Asia Pacific, told CNBC last week.
Hearable technology alone will be a $5 billion market by 2018 – that's roughly the same size of the entire wearables industry presently – according to Nick Hunn, founder and chief technology officer of U.K. firm Wifore Consulting.
Proponents of the wearable tech phenomenon attribute its popularity to successful integration into the flow of daily life, creating a "synced lifestyle," research firm PSFK said in its 'Future of Wearable Tech' report this year. This logic has seen the domain of wearable tech mostly fall on body parts with the most obvious link to fashion, such as the wrist, eyes and feet, seen through smartwatches developed byApple and Samsung and navigation-equipped smart shoes like India-based Ducere's Lechal model.
However, brands may be overlooking one key fact, Hunn said. "Sound drives the bulk of our technology use and earbuds are the only piece of wearable tech to have gained ubiquity and social acceptance. These devices are about to undergo a revolution in capability, getting rid of their cables and giving them the opportunity to be the standard bearer for wearable technology," he wrote in a report earlier this year.
One key advantage hearables have over other wearable peers is their discretion. Ear devices can be small in nature, thus giving its users greater discretion, as opposed to bulky smartwatches or the unavoidable Google Glass.